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DPT, Med-Health Pharma Shed Light on Authentication Solution (Part 2)


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)

What about repackaging?
Like DPT Laboratories, Med-Health Pharma operates in the pharmaceutical industry, too. But Med-Health Pharma is a repackager, not a contract packager.

Located in North Las Vegas, NV, Med-Health Pharma also has an ambitious e-Pedigree plan in place, and its similar to DPTs in that it includes SupplyScape as the provider of the chain-of-custody software. But before delving into how it works and who some of the other suppliers are, its useful to understand what kind of repackager Med-Health is. Or perhaps will be would be more accurate, as the firm is gearing up for a third-quarter launch in 2009. Even so, well stick to the present tense here for purposes of simplicity.

The bottles that Med-Health Pharma repackages are for sale primarily to doctors. Bottles hold 10 to 30 doses, and the only drugs involved are the kind commonly prescribed by general practitioners for common ailments. Its a relatively new concept known as point-of-care dispensing, which, as the name suggests, means patients receive their prescription drugs right in the doctors office—the point where medical care is given—instead of having to make a second trip to a pharmacy.

Med-Health Pharma buys the drugs in 100-count bottles from Med-Health Pharmaceutical Products (MHPP), a pharmaceutical wholesaler thats right down the street from Med-Health Pharma. The two are allied, but Med-Health Pharma is still a separate and independent company. MHPP deals primarily in generics from drug makers such as Watson or Westward.

At Med-Health Pharma, bottles sent by MHPP are opened automatically on a machine from Bellatrx that automatically upends bottles and cuts the bottoms off so the contents can be emptied into a bin. The machine was originally developed, says Med-Health Pharma director of operations Mark Hames, for drug manufacturers who, due to a labeling mistake or cocked caps or some other flaw that made a container not suitable for shipment, needed to send large numbers of bottles through rework. But it meets our needs perfectly.

Med-Health Pharma stores the bins of pills in inventory until an order for them comes in. At that point, the pills are taken into a packaging suite where they are repackaged into patient-sized high-density polyethylene containers holding anywhere from 10 to 30 doses. These are sold back to MHPP for sale to doctors.

When Med-Health Pharma swings into production, three brand-protection strategies will be deployed, says Sam Haddad, vice president of operations. One is from Kodak Security Solutions, whose Traceless System for Anticounterfeiting taps into a wide array of Kodaks intellectual property and expertise in material science, digital imaging, and printing. In Med-Health Pharmas case, a taggant is involved. Its delivered to Med-Health Pharma embedded in the thermal-transfer ribbon that gets fed to a Sato print engine. The print engine is mounted on a pressure-sensitive label unwinder from Herma, which in turn is mounted on an Eco-Wrap wraparound labeler from Bellatrx.

When the p-s label runs through the Sato print engine, it receives the Traceless covert taggant as well as the human-readable copy and graphics that are required on the label. The taggant can only be viewed through a laser-based reader.

If any bottle with labeling that identifies it as ours should ever be a cause for concern in the marketplace, we can scan the label with the Traceless System reader to verify whether or not its an authentic bottle that came from one of our production runs, says Haddad.

The Sato print engine also imprints on each p-s label a unique ID, generated by Yottamark, thats printed in two formats: a 24-digit human-readable code and a 2D datamatrix bar code. Yottamarks encryption engine securely generates unique serial numbers that cant be repeated.

Its not that we prevent copying, says Yottamarks Elliott Grant. But counterfeiters have no incentive to make one fake. They need to make an abundance of fakes to make any money. So with our technology, youre looking for patterns of duplicates showing up in the field. If the same code ever shows up twice, we know theres a problem because our algorithm cant generate the same unique code twice. So we catch you if you try to make up a number, we catch you if you try to copy a bunch of numbers and seed them in the marketplace, and we catch you if you try to reuse numbers that have already been used.

The third brand-protection strategy used at Med-Health Pharma is the e-Pedigree data management software system from SupplyScape, which operates in a manner similar to what we saw in DPTs case.

DPT and Med-Health Pharma are just two of many firms now coming to grips with the challenge of brand authentication. Its a problem that wont be going away anytime soon.

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)
EU's New "Pharmaceutical Package" Drops Repackaging Ban
DPT, Med-Health Pharma Shed Light on Authentication Solution (Part 1)
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