18 November 2004
Pharmaceutical firms are using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and barcode technologies to help uncover fraudulent and counterfeit medicines.
Six pharmaceutical companies, including Merck Generics UK and Novartis, have agreed to attach RFID tags and sophisticated barcodes to individual containers and boxes of their products.
Pharmacists in 50 chemists are using scanners to authenticate the products they dispense in the three-month trial, which is being conducted by Aegate, an authentication service provider.
The tags will be used to check quality, rather than track and trace medicines, said Ian Rhodes, chief executive of Aegate.
The process detects "diverted products" - items that are sold cheaply to developing nations but have been fraudulently introduced to the European supply chain by smugglers and agents.
The system can also identify recalled and expired products.