Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

The E-Pedigree Stalemate

Drug manufacturers want to use serialized bar codes to comply with e-pedigree laws, but distributors and retailers prefer RFID.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 15, 2008—e U.S. drug industry has been looking at how to collect data for pedigrees—documents that verify the chain of custody of drugs as they move through the supply chain. Now all eyes are on the big manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies to see how they will comply with California's drug pedigree law, which requires that companies maintain electronic records for all medications sold in the state as of Jan. 1, 2009.

The goal is for all pharmaceutical, biologic and over-the-counter medications to be traced to their point of origin to ensure that each unit sold is not counterfeit. What happens in California could determine what will happen in other states, such as Florida, which also has passed a pedigree law (Florida does not require electronic pedigrees).

A number of companies have conducted trials that prove RFID can be used to collect pedigree information (see E-Pedigree Pioneers), but drug manufacturers now appear to be moving toward using 2-D bar codes, which can also hold unique identification numbers. Under the California law, pedigrees must originate with manufacturers, so they have to create a way to uniquely identify doses of their product (Florida requires pedigrees that start with distributors). The 2-D bar codes are cheaper to print and apply to drugs than RFID tags, and manufacturers gain few internal benefits from applying transponders.

Cardinal Health, McKesson and other drug distributors prefer RFID to bar codes because they would not have to pay the cost of the tags. And while they'd need to make an up-front investment in the RFID infrastructure required to capture drug shipment data, there would be no increased labor costs. To collect serialized data with 2-D bar codes, wholesalers and distributors would need to employ armies of workers to pick up bottles of pills and vials of drugs to scan the bar codes.

Retailers prefer RFID to bar codes for the same reasons. On Nov. 29, 2007, Wal-Mart sent a letter to its drug suppliers (the retailer has pharmacies within its stores) saying it plans to be ready to handle products with serialized data by Oct. 1, 2008, to ensure that any issues could be addressed in time to meet the Jan. 1 deadline. The letter also listed "Wal-Mart's serialization requirements." For item identification, Electronic Product Codes should be "the primary data carrier," with 2-D bar codes for "backup redundancy." Case and pallet tagging should also be done with EPC as the primary data carrier and standard linear bar codes as the backup. Wal-Mart did not say it was mandating the use of EPC tags to comply with the California law, but it did say: "If you plan on using something different from the [list] above, briefly explain how you plan to be compliant."

Clearly, the two solutions—2-D bar codes and EPC tags—have specific reasons for appealing to different players in the supply chain, so companies within the supply chain are likely to tussle over which solution to adopt. If all distributors and retailers throw their support behind RFID, that could move the industry to adopt the technology, but so far retailers and distributors have been reluctant to take a strong stand in favor of RFID.

Other factors that could tip the scales toward RFID include:

• The cost of the tags falling to 1 cent or less (which is unlikely to happen unless there's a breakthrough in printed electronics)

• Early tagging efforts showing benefits for manufacturers that offset the cost (this hasn't been the case with trials so far)

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration or state governments mandating the use of RFID (which is unlikely, since a mandate would face fierce opposition from the industry)

So, it's unclear whether 2-D bar codes or RFID will gain widespread acceptance in the drug supply chain. For the near term, both 2-D bar codes and RFID will be deployed to comply with the California law, while the leading industry players try to come to a consensus on which technology to use. Stay tuned.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 664 words and 1 page. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations
© Copyright 2002-2016 RFID Journal LLC.
Powered By: Haycco