In the US, there has been an upsurge in interest in developing ways to safeguard the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain in the wake of an upswing in the number of cases of drug counterfeiting. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set up a taskforce to deal with the problem that is due to deliver its first advice early this year.
Using track and trace technologies, each pack (and potentially each individual dosage unit) of a pharmaceutical would be ascribed a unique identifier code that could be used to trace its provenance from factory to prescriber. CCL has enlisted the aid of ORBID to incorporate the latter's 2DMI track and trace codes in its drug labels.
The 2DMI security marks (see below) are small, unobtrusive and can be printed in virtually any colour, in any size, and on any surface. They can be scanned using commercial off-the-shelf cameras and standard imagers, according to the firm.
Boxes, labels, and even individual pills or capsules can be printed or etched with 2DMI marks, which can be concealed within logos or other graphics. Each is unique and can be cross-checked for authenticity against a database kept only by the manufacturer.
"The previous inability to track and validate authenticity beneath the level of large batches left room for counterfeiting, theft, and diversion - practices that decrease safety levels, cut into product sales, and cause the long term erosion of brand value if left unchecked," commented Kevin Simmons, ORBID's managing director of sales.
A report on measures to combat counterfeiting, issued by US trade group the National Association of Chain Drug Stores late last year, recommended track and trace as a key part of a strategy to ensure drug authenticity, especially for high-risk medicines.