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Electronics Production | December 21, 2006

Report about RFID in pharmaceuticals

The use of radio frequency identification (RFID) by Europe's pharmaceutical industry will continue to be driven by increasing counterfeit products in the market. Such counterfeiting is largely due to deficiencies in the supply chain and the legalised parallel trade in pharmaceuticals between EU member nations.

Frost & Sullivan finds that the European Markets for RFID in Pharmaceuticals earned revenues of $18.0 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $464.8 million in 2012. “Globally, about five to eight per cent of prescription drugs are counterfeit, which is a big liability for pharma companies," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst V. Sriram. “The absence of integration across the supply chain and the inability to track products at every stage has intensified this trend, while creating a real and urgent need for RFID." Despite the tremendous scope for the use of RFID to track and manage products in the pharmaceutical industry, the lack of interoperability and harmonisation of standards remains a key issue. EU member nations will have to arrive at a consensus so that even as the initial cost of implementation is minimised, long-term sustainability can be achieved. “Though 2D data matrix is perceived to be a better choice than RFID, the latter does not require line-of-sight and can scan multiple products at any given point of time, when compared to two dimensional bar codes," adds Mr. Sriram. “Hence, misconceptions about RFID and interoperability concerns need to be alleviated and uncertainties about the effectiveness of RFID fully addressed." At the same time, RFID vendors need to keep themselves abreast of the regulatory and technological requirements of various countries and work closely with government agencies to ensure a smooth transition from bar codes to RFID. However, in the short term, companies cannot afford to dispense with bar codes and will need to adopt an informed approach towards implementing RFID.
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