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DPT, Med-Health Pharma Shed Light on Authentication Solution (Part 1)

 
 

A pervasive air of secrecy makes trends in brand protection tough to track. But the following two pharmaceutical-based authentication efforts by DPT Laboratories and Med-Health Pharma shed light on some of the solutions being explored to combat counterfeiters, diverters, and gray marketers who appear to be broadening their horizons.


By Pat Reynolds, Editor, Packaging World (First published in Packaging World, January 2009)

 

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have a real  brand-protection battle on their hands, as the World Health Organization estimates that counterfeit drug sales could reach $75 billion by 2010. For contract packagers, implementing a successful anti-counterfeiting strategy is especially challenging, says DPT's Green. The company serves as a contract developer of molecules as well as a contract manufacturer and packager that handles creams, liquids, gels, and powders.

 

As contract manufacturers, we have to be all things to all people, says Green. And our customers are all over the map when it comes to what they think they need in the way of anti-counterfeiting measures. To further complicate things, we have a marketing arm with their own-brand product called Healthpoint. At the end of the day, we face a lot of opinions about whats best and what isnt. We have to listen to all of them.

 

DPT is in the final stages of developing and implementing what might be called a pay-as-you-go plan. A 2D datamatrix bar-code track-and-trace system that goes right down to the smallest saleable unit will be the standard offering. On cases and pallets, the standard offering might be an RFID tag, so that when those cases and pallets come to a major distributor or wholesalers warehouse, they can be easily checked. But if a customer wants to go beyond the standard offering—suppose, for example, they want both a bar code and an RFID tag on individual units—DPT is looking at a menu of options that can be selected and paid for accordingly.

 

Green says the plan is to focus on prescription drugs first, though DPT also handles over-the-counter items. Partnering with DPT on the supplier side will be Blue Vector and either SupplyScape or Axway. DPT hasnt gone commercial yet with its e-Pedigree implementation. But heres an illustration of how it might play out if tubed products, for example, are in production.

 

Each tube is assigned a unique serial number by either DPT or the contract customer. This number is carried in an RFID tag or 2D bar code on a pressure-sensitive label on the tube. Onto the corrugated case into which 12 tubes are to be inserted, an operator applies an RFID tag; again, its carried on a p-s label. As tubes move onto an accumulation table, a Blue Vector scanning device reads the 2D bar code or RFID tag on the tube and another Blue Vector scanning device reads the RFID tag on the case. So as the tubes are manually loaded into the case, Blue Vector software associates the 12 unique tube numbers with the tag on the case.

 

Later at DPT, the cases are put on a pallet and a Blue Vector reader associates the cases with a linear bar code or RFID tag that goes on the pallet. Finally, pallets are aggregated into an order. So a complete child/parent relationship linking tubes with cases with pallets with an order has been established.

 

While Blue Vectors contribution is on the capture of the unique serialization numbers, SupplyScapes or Axways e-Pedigree data management software is responsible for managing the chain of custody as the uniquely serialized product makes its way through the supply chain. Every time product changes hands—from drug manufacturer to DPT to Wholesaler 1 to Wholesaler 2 to Distributor—the unique identification numbers are sent into DPTs Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP). When the e-Pedigree is built, the unique IDs are extracted out of ERP—along with all the other information thats required, such as manufacturers name, lot code, expiration date, invoice number, etc.—and electronically sent to the next trading partner in the chain.

 

On the packaging line and at the distribution center, Blue Vectors technology is the vehicle by which we capture and authenticate the serialized numbers that go out the door, says Green. Their software rolls that data up into our business system and ultimately into our ERP, and thats where the e-Pedigree provider takes over. They take the pedigree information and collect the serialized number and keep that database and send that pedigree to the next owner of the item.

 

The way we look at it, an anti-counterfeiting solution is going to be a requirement in the very near future. Like putting a cap on a bottle, its simply something thats done, he says.
 

Note: Alan Green, logistics director for DPT Laboratories, will discuss how the contract developer, manufacturer, and packager is implementing brand-protection strategies at the Brand-Protection Packaging Forum May 5, 2009 in Chicago.
 

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Authentication—Are Brands Under Siege? (Part 1)
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