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TI and VeriSign Collaborate to Curb Drug Counterfeiting

Texas Instruments and VeriSign this week jointly announced "Authenticated RFID", a model of RFID data encryption and security that the companies intend to aid the fight against counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
Jun 03, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 3, 2005—Hardware giant Texas Instruments and leading infrastructure services provider VeriSign this week jointly announced "Authenticated RFID," a model of RFID data encryption and security that the companies intend to aid the fight against pharmaceuticals counterfeiting, which constitutes a $32 billion problem annually. The system combines ISO/IEC standard 13.56 MHz RFID and public-key infrastructure (PKI) technology to verify the authenticity of a tagged bottle of drugs and its distribution history. 3M will be providing RFID readers for the system.

Authenticated RFID offers "real-time, off-network authentication," meaning that VeriSign acts as a trusted third party by offering an authentication service in the same way it does for many credit card-based e-commerce transactions. The system employs a multi-tier system, combining digital signatures, automatic data collection, and encryption to create numerous lines of defense against possible counterfeit techniques. (For an in-depth explanation of the system, see Texas Instruments' white paper Securing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain with RFID and Public-Key Infrastructure Technologies, registration required.) Julie England, general manager of Texas Instruments RFid Systems, was quoted as saying "This new model is an important step forward in the fight against counterfeit drugs, extending the track and trace capabilities of RFID by adding real-time off-network authentication. Working with the ISO/IEC and EPCglobal Inc. international standards organizations, we’re seeking to leverage existing technologies and infrastructure to address the need for item-level pharmaceutical authentication to help provide a safe and secure supply chain."

The TI-VeriSign announcement represents the second high-profile bit of RFID-pharmaceutical supply chain news this week: SupplyScape, Purdue Pharma, H. D. Smith, and Unisys announced the launch of an electronic pedigree program that they aim to be a model for pharmaceutical tracking across the industry.

The momentum around RFID and pharmaceutical tracking should only increase. The staggering aggregate cost and potential dangers of the drug counterfeiting trade represent a problem that the stakeholders are highly motivated to solve. The initiatives also represent the first major steps to item-level tagging. Look for the innovations in pharmaceutical tracking to be adopted across many industries as RFID's cost decreases to the point where item-level tagging becomes justified for ever cheaper goods.

Read the press release
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