Foiling counterfeit drugs

3M and Texas Instruments have teamed up to implement a strategy to battle drug counterfeiting and boost pharmaceutical supply chain security. The companies are offering an integrated security solution for the pharmaceutical market's first authenticated radio frequency identification (RFID) industry platform.

The Authenticated RFID Platform is a multilayered, transaction-based security solution where each item is uniquely and securely authenticated. A Texas Instruments RFID tag placed on each package delivers a machine-readable security stamp containing a digital signature that is based on Public-key Infrastructure (PKI). Dispensing sites can use this digital signature as strong evidence that the product came from the original manufacturer.

The basic system delivers authentication between each end of the supply chain. Layering overt and covert physical security features into the Authenticated RFID label makes it more difficult to compromise the security of the label and serves as a backup to package verification to give supply chain participants without readers a method to verify tag authenticity.

RFID technology's ability to store a unique serialised number enables the track-and-trace utility required for ePedigree solutions, a certified chain of custody, or pedigree, for pharmaceuticals. At each stage of the supply chain, 3M's authentication system confirms the RFID tag's digital signature as genuine, creates a time-stamped event marker and stores the marker on the tag.

The Authenticated RFID reader provides additional event information to the network, indicating trusted supply chain participants have handled the product. By using Authenticated RFID to certify the tag and assure chain-of-custody event information is available for supply chain software, pharmacies can confidently receive and distribute drugs that have moved through a safe and secure supply chain. The 3M and Texas Instruments Authenticated RFID Platform is designed to support EPCglobal’s network and serialisation scheme currently being developed through the standardisation body.

"The Authenticated RFID Platform delivers the critical authentication function necessary today to combat counterfeit activities. It allows the integration of electronic and physical security, and offers future improvements beyond supply chain history," said Mike Delkoski, general manager, 3M Security Systems Division.

"This new approach to addressing drug authenticity using RFID and PKI technologies can be initially implemented at each end of the supply chain today, while providing a migration path to broader deployment across the pharmaceutical supply chain," said Mikael Ahlund, director of RFID Healthcare, Texas Instruments RFid Systems.

For more information on the Authenticated RFID Platform, download the free white paper, Securing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain - The Authenticated RFID Platform