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Gador to Track Drugs in Argentina

The pharmaceutical company will employ an EPC Gen 2 RFID system to reduce the risk of counterfeiting, by applying a tag to each high-value product it ships.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 24, 2011Gador Laboratories, one of Argentina's largest pharmaceutical providers, is installing a radio frequency identification solution at one of its factories that will enable the company to track individual pharmaceutical products, as well as the pallets on which they are transported.

The deployment follows a month-long pilot undertaken at Gador's Buenos Aires location in December 2010, using a solution provided by systems integrator Telectrónica. The pilot's aim was to determine if tightly packed products, moving at high speed and within an environment containing high levels of metal and liquids, could be successfully read without interfering with the manufacturing process. The piloted system, which Telectrónica installed, included one fixed Impinj interrogator to read item-level RFID tags, as well as a second fixed Impinj device to read the tags of cartons and pallets as the products were packed and then shipped. Data read from the tags was received and interpreted by Telectrónica's traceability software, in order to track the locations of the goods being shipped, the packs in which they are contained and the pallets on which they are loaded.

Gador develops and manufactures medications in four locations in Argentina, selling 2 million units of pharmaceutical products on a monthly basis. The company began seeking an automated system to track its products and protect against counterfeiters in the supply chain between its facility and retailers. Item-level tracking of pharmaceutical products is expected to be mandated in South America, which could be accomplished using either bar codes or RFID labels on each item. "Doing such a thing with bar codes is feasible, but it will impact the supply chain with manual processes," says Alan Gidekel, Telectrónica's general manager, noting that RFID would be the faster-performing solution.

"Our primary objective is anti-counterfeiting," says Ricardo Jellinek, Gador's director of technology and operations. To maintain product integrity and ensure the safety of its customers, the firm is focused on ensuring that no one attempts to counterfeit its products at any point along the supply chain. Therefore, it tested the use of RFID at its Buenos Aires facility, and is currently in discussions with several of its distributors to begin building an RFID reader infrastructure at distribution locations.

At Gador's manufacturing sites, bottles are filled with medications and labeled at high speed. The pharmaceutical company required a system that would allow the application of RFID tags, as well as the reading and encoding of those tags, without reducing the efficiency of the manufacturing process. To that end, the firm began working with Telectrónica to test an RFID system that would link each product to the pack in which it is contained, in addition to the pallet on which it was loaded.

Telectrónica first tested the system at its in-house laboratory, including Impinj ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) bulk-encoding readers and UPM RFID EPC Gen 2 tags on containers of medication. The data culled from each read was interpreted by Telectrónica's traceability software, residing on a server hosted by Telectrónica itself, which also linked the unique ID number of each individual container (filled with pills) with the IDs of its pack and pallet, in a parent-child relationship.

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