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RFID: Solution to Counterfeiting?

Illustration for article titled RFID: Solution to Counterfeiting?

Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) is being eyed as the main answer to the endless issue of flourishing illegal business of drug counterfeiting across the world. With the widespread application of RFID, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expecting to trace purchased prescription drugs to as long as three years ago. This plan, however, is being faced with numerous complaints from pharmaceutical companies.

It expected that FDA’s plan of tracking all the medicines manufactured for the last three years would cost companies in the health care industry hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more. But it seems there is no stopping FDA in materializing their plans.

According to reviews, FDA has envisioned the plan when a report has been procured. With its strategy for combating the spread of counterfeit drugs, the FDA said it views the use of RFID tags and readers as the best way for health care companies, hospitals and pharmacies to ensure that medicines are legitimate. The agency envisions a program under which prescription drug shipments will be assigned unique electronic product codes and RFID devices will be used to record data about all supply chain transactions involving the products.

Feasibility studies are already being prepared for the proper implementation of the project while partnership with different governments in various countries is already underway. So far, active participation is being shown by Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Japan, Jakarta, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With the help of local NGOs, FDA is also expecting to penetrate even rural areas in each country. The Peterson Group, one of the non-profit organizations volunteering in this global campaign, has already set its roots in the Asia-pacific with an approval from World Health Organization (WHO).

On the other hands, critics of RFID which is also being used for other economic sectors such as manufacturing, supply chain, agriculture, transportation, healthcare, and services to name a few, are still facing issues on the effectiveness of this technology.

The problem is that decades after RFID technology was invented, and years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started touting it as the most promising way to authenticate drugs, RFID technology as an anti-counterfeiting technology remains just that: “promising”-yet far from proven. WHO has even stated that despite years of implementation of RFID, the number of fraud cases has not slowed down but continues to escalate. Some scammers are also suspected to counter RFID technology by creating their own system which can mask counterfeited products into what RFID considers as legit.


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