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Medicarte Uses RFID and Biometrics to Reduce Counterfeiting

Passive HF tags identify expensive drugs dispensed to customers, ensuring that the empty packaging can not be reused by sellers of bogus pharmaceuticals.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 20, 2011Colombian pharmacy chain Medicarte has introduced a radio frequency identification solution designed to track the packaging of expensive cancer-treatment and hormone-replacement drugs, in order to ensure that discarded packaging is not reused by companies attempting to sell counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

"Since the medicines we provide are very expensive for our health-care system, and there is a big black market for these drugs, we wanted to contribute to controlling this black market," says Angela Maria Durango, Medicarte's regional coordinator. "We wanted to obtain the traceability data to know who we were giving the medicines to, and that this same person returned us that same empty medicine package, using RFID and biometric technologies."

At a Medicarte pharmacy's tagging station, a passive HF RFID inlay is attached to the packaging of certain expensive drugs.

The system was developed for Medicarte by IDlink, an RFID solutions provider based in Medellín, Colombia. When a Medicarte pharmacy receives a batch of pharmaceuticals from a drug company, a Tagsys RFID high-frequency (HF) passive transponder, based on the ISO 15693 air-interface protocol standard, is affixed to each item's packaging.

A Tagsys LP-101 RFID reader with an Aero LC antenna under the tagging station interrogates each tag's pre-encoded serial number. A Medicarte employee then enters the type of drug into software also developed by IDlink, along with the expiration date for that batch of medicines.

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