Drug companies are to trial a unique form of brand protection by incorporating a laser marking system on glass vials, which is hoped to act as a deterrent to counterfeiters as engraving is impossible to remove and difficult to copy.
The trial, which is to commence in the second quarter of 2006, is the latest weapon in the battle against fake goods, which has blighted the pharmaceutical industry that is already trying to deal with the recent influx of counterfeit drugs onto the market.
The laser marking technology is designed to securely mark transparent materials. Single product items will be marked with an encrypted alphanumeric code, which will be delivered to the pharmaceutical manufacturers. To check if a product is genuine, consumers will validate the code on the internet.
The laser technology will allow non-aggressive internal marking of transparent materials with visible or invisible codes. Naginels can also mark transparent materials with machine-readable 2D barcodes.
Naginels, a European business partnership, and security code provider Kezzler will offer the brand protection system called Fides.
"Pharmaceutical companies will use Fides to mark glass bottles and vials with a code using laser technology," said Yoav Dvir, CEO of Kezzler .
The pharmaceutical industry is contributing to this effort by increasing its use of anti-counterfeiting technologies such as holograms, colour shifting inks and covert markings on products and packaging, in addition to starting pilot studies on RFID.
Under this particular scheme, Kezzler will use Naginels' laser marking technology as a data carrier. Kezzler will deliver the software system that provides product authentication and traceability.
Dvir added that Kezzler and Naginels will also target perfume, beverage and automotive industries with the laser marking system in January 2006.
Kezzler's involvement in this latest venture is part of a partnership formed in October 2004, between European businesses and universities, which aim to introduce an innovative laser marking technology.
Six European businesses and two European universities are teaming up to bring the technology to the marketplace. The project is a cooperative research project funded by the European Union's Sixth Framework programme. The companies have been given €1.2 million to complete the project.
The other companies involved are UK-based Total Brand Security, French printing and engraving company Costet SA, French laser makers Plate-forme d'Applications des Lasers en Aquitaine, Italian brand protection company Solos and Belgian laser applications company Laser Applications Engineering.
Technology centres at the University of Liège in Belgium and the University of Bordeaux in France are also involved.