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Systech offers solution in counterfeit drug war

By writes Kirsty Barnes , 21-Oct-2005

Systech International's new TIPS Serialized Product Tracking solution software will aid in the fight against counterfeit and diverted products within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

The technology, designed to allow track and trace of item-level products, provides what the company claims is the highest level of product security to date.

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals is one of the most critical issues facing the pharmaceutical industry today. The World Health Organization estimates that 5-8 per cent of worldwide trade in pharmaceuticals is counterfeit.

Of great concern is the fact that many counterfeit pharmaceutical products come from illegal operations with very poor controls and may contain ingredients that could be harmful.

A recent report released by The Centre for Medicines in the Public Interest, projected counterfeit drug sales to reach $75 billion (€63 billion) in 2010, a 92 per cent increase from 2005.

The report estimates counterfeit drug sales will grow 13 per cent a year through to 2010, compared to just 7.5 per cent estimated annual growth for global pharmaceutical commerce.

In addition to counterfeiting, there is also an ongoing problem of product diversion as well as the reintroduction of expired products into the supply chain.

Liability issues, consumer confidence, and brand erosion costs are driving pharmaceutical manufacturers to adopt technologies to combat this growing global problem.

Over the past year, various systems of "track and trace" technologies and product authentication technologies have debuted for applying both bar codes and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to preserve product integrity.

However, >Systech's latest software enables RFID encoding to real-time primary package printing, writing to the RFID tag as the product label is being printed.

"Within a manufacturing facility, Systech is the only provider to date to offer such a packaging solution," Joe Costa, Systec's director of marketing, told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.

"Several key customers in both the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors have engaged us to provide solutions to improve product authentication capabilities across their supply chains," said Systech's CEO Robert DeJean.

"Utilising TIPS Serialized Product Tracking they can better respond to the counterfeit and diverted product challenge and ultimately improve financial, brand, and public perception issues around this epidemic," he said.

The system works in concert with RFID and bar code technologies and enables full track and trace of serialized products on the packaging line and complete visibility of products throughout their supply chain.

The solution records the serial numbers of unit level items and the parent-child relationships in which the products are placed (cases, pallets, etc.), providing a mechanism for manufacturers and supply chain partners to verify the products they receive are authentic.

All events and information are filtered and stored in a secure database, making it available to enterprise information systems.

The technology is flexible and scalable, adaptable to any product and line configuration and supports both manual and automated processes.

RFID tags are tiny computer chips connected to miniature antennae that can be affixed to physical objects. The RFID contains an electronic product codes (EPC) with sufficient capacity to provide unique identifiers for all items produced worldwide.

The tracking and data coding enabled by RFID can provide pharmaceutical manufacturers with a powerful tool to combat product counterfeiting and product diversion and customers will be able to ensure product integrity from the manufacturers.

According to many of its proponents, RFID promises to save billions and radically change the way the supply chain works.

TIPS Serialized Product Tracking is part of Systech's product range of machine vision inspection, packaging line automation and information management solutions.

Founded in 1985 and based in New Jersey, Systech International is a provider of packaging performance management solutions for manufacturing operations.

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