Texas Instruments and VeriSign Collaborate on RFID for Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Companies partner in the ongoing battle against counterfeit drugs


DALLAS and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- In the battle against counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical supply chain, Texas Instruments and VeriSign, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN) today introduced a model for Authenticated RFID that has the potential to enhance security and chain-of-custody controls. The Authenticated RFID model will combine ISO/IEC standard 13.56 MHz RFID and PKI (Public-key infrastructure) technologies in a two-stage approach to fight the counterfeit drug problem. Texas Instruments and VeriSign are developing the Authenticated RFID model to support item-level authentication at the pharmacy, and the implementation over time of a supply chain infrastructure to validate transactions at any point along the chain of custody.

This Authenticated RFID model proposes an enhancement to item-level product security in real-time by creating stronger authentication between the tag and any Authenticated RFID reader from the point of manufacture to the point of sale. 3M, a leading provider of security solutions including RFID tracking and authentication systems, will supply the Authenticated RFID readers to support this new model. By initially deploying the technology at the point of manufacturing and the point of dispensing, the pharmaceutical industry can benefit from a higher level of item-level authentication to thwart counterfeit products.

This Authenticated RFID model employs real-time, off-network authentication at the dispensing pharmacy, a first step that can be implemented quickly with minimal investments in current infrastructure. The integration of RFID and PKI technologies would facilitate identification of unique items, automate data collection and provide authentication at multiple read points as a product moves through the supply chain.

Through the use of standards-based public key technology, digital signatures and data encryption, the Authenticated RFID model would enable enterprises to create and validate "ownership" during multiple states of shipping and receiving. The use of PKI would enable products to be authenticated by a trusted third party, and encrypt information sent between parties. VeriSign currently provides encryption and authentication services for 93 percent of the Fortune 500 and the top ten U.S. banks.

"This new model is an important step forward in the fight against counterfeit drugs, extending the track and trace capabilities of RFID by adding real-time off-network authentication," said Julie England, vice president of Texas Instruments and general manager of Texas Instruments RFid Systems. "Working with the ISO/IEC and EPCglobal Inc. international standards organizations, we're seeking to leverage existing technologies and infrastructure to address the need for item-level pharmaceutical authentication to help provide a safe and secure supply chain."

"One of the more difficult challenges faced by manufacturers and retailers alike is trying to determine the custody of a product at the various stages of its journey along the supply chain," said Brian Matthews, vice president of VeriSign's Naming and Directory Services. "VeriSign is very familiar with using authentication to verify who's real and who's not in online transactions. We're bringing that expertise to bear on the problem of defining 'what's real,' and on recording ownership of products as they move through a complex shipping process that begins with manufacture and ends with the display on store shelves."

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