RFID Use Urged for Pharmaceutical Industry

Radio frequency identification could be an answer to drug counterfeiting that costs the pharmaceutical industry more than $30 billion annually, according to a new ABI Research study, "The RFID Life Sciences Market."

Three major manufacturers--Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Purdue Pharma--have announced plans to tag their products.

Additionally, the FDA has recommended tracking in the pharmaceutical supply chain, and Florida and California are mandating "pedigrees"--the verification of drug shipments' integrity from manufacturer to retailer.

While none of these initiatives requires the use of RFID, they do recommend it, according to ABI analyst Sara Shah.

"While RFID will address patient safety issues," Shah said, "it will also bring down costs for pharmaceutical companies. Tagging items through the supply chain provides increased visibility and enables executives to make better and timelier business decisions."

"With the industry losing $2 billion due to overstock and expiry and $30 billion due to counterfeiting, there is an opportunity for RFID to right the ship," she said. "Supply chain visibility and real-time data-driven supply chain information-sharing solutions can help troubled pharmaceutical makers, distributors, and retailers to strengthen performance."