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IBM Adds E-Pedigree Features to WebSphere RFIDIC

Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen says it plans to test the software's electronic-pedigree capabilities as part of its current RFID pilot.
By Beth Bacheldor
Aug 15, 2007IBM has announced the addition of electronic-pedigree (e-pedigree) features to its WebSphere RFID Information Center (RFIDIC) software. The new features will enable companies to create e-pedigrees—secure documents that record a drug's progression throughout the supply chain, from the point of manufacture to the pharmacy.

According to Christian Clauss, director of sensor information management products with the IBM Software Group, WebSphere RFIDIC's e-pedigree features are designed to help companies comply with new and emerging regulations, such as California's e-pedigree requirement, slated to take effect in January 2009. Among those features is the ability to generate serialized e-pedigrees, which contain a unique ID number, or serial number, for each bottle, case or pallet of prescription drugs manufactured, sold and distributed in the pharmaceutical supply chain. The serial numbers are correlated with other information, such as the drugs' manufacturer, their batch numbers, other companies handling the drugs and so forth.

Shay Reid
Designed to facilitate the exchange of RFID data among trading partners, government agencies and other entities, WebSphere RFIDIC became commercially available in December 2006 (see IBM Launches Software for Sharing RFID Data). The software is based on EPCglobal's standard for Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) software, which serves as a communication mechanism between applications and data repositories, enabling companies to effectively exchange and query data from within their own RFID processes, and also with partners.

By using an EPCIS-compliant system to create e-pedigrees, companies will be able to more easily exchange necessary data among trading partners in a supply chain, Clauss explains, as well as access key data for other business applications, such as managing drug expirations or recalls. "The idea here is you don't just want to be compliant with laws like California's e-pedigree requirement. You want to gather as much information as possible about the drug," he says.

In addition, IBM has added reporting tools and alerting features to the new version of WebSphere RFIDIC. The alerting tool, for example, helps companies set up processes to issue warnings to appropriate personnel if a drug shipment is late, has been recalled or perhaps is about to expire. Companies such as Cardinal Health (see Cardinal Health Deploying Drug E-Pedigree System) and AmerisourceBergen are currently conducting e-pedigree initiatives.

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