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NFC Helps Track Medication Use in Clinical Trials

Schreiner MediPharm has released its Smart Vial Kit for clinical trial testing, which uses printed electronics to capture and store sensor data related to when a medical device was removed, as well as NFC technology to transmit that data for review and analysis on an app.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 31, 2019

Several pharmaceutical companies are piloting a Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID-based system from Schreiner MediPharm, known as the Smart Vial Kit, to manage the dispensing of drugs for clinical trials. The product, which employs printed electronic sensors, an integrated circuit, an NFC radio and an antenna to transmit data indicating when specific medications were taken, follows on the heels of the company's Smart Blister Pack, developed to track medication use at the consumer level.

Schreiner MediPharm expects to commercially release the Smart Blister Pack later this year, followed by the Smart Vial Kit. The vial kit will mostly be used for clinical trials, the company reports, while the blister pack is designed for both commercial and clinical trial deployments, to track patients' medication use. "The use case for both products is to report patient prescription adherences so they take medication as it is expected," explains Arne Rehm, Schreiner MediPharm's product manager for RFID and NFC solutions.

The Smart Blister Pack
The Smart Vial Kit is a box covered with a cardboard layer of numbered, perforated areas corresponding to individual compartments in which vials are stored. When a user opens a perforation by pulling a starter tab, a specific vial's removal is identified by means of the printed sensors and IC.

Relevant data points, including the exact removal time, the compartment from which the vial was removed and the respective medication, are tracked in real time and are automatically stored in the smart packaging. After that, the information can be read at any time via a smartphone app using NFC technology to interrogate the tag and capture the sensor data for further analysis. As a result, Rehm says, the medication dispensed to a particular patient can be precisely monitored.

Schreiner MediPharm makes solutions for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, including packaging and labels, according to Uwe Braun, the company's patient compliance solutions product manager. The firm developed the NFC-enabled blister pack and vial kit to automate the monitoring process of medication dispensing, Braun says, and has carried out early testing on the products with Switzerland's University of Basel and Germany's University of Mainz. Based on the results on those early tests, the firm is now releasing the Smart Vial Kit for testing by a pharmaceutical firm, while testing of the Smart Blister Pack is already under way with another company.

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