Pfizer Introduces Radio Frequency Identification Technology to Combat
Technology Takes Aim at Criminals Who Are Counterfeiting Viagra
NEW YORK, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In its latest initiative to
promote patient safety by combating pharmaceutical counterfeiting,
Pfizer Inc has begun to ship its first product containing radio
frequency identification (RFID) tags to its customers in the United
RFID technology is being added to all ViagraŽ (sildenafil citrate)
sold in the U.S. to enable pharmacies and wholesalers to verify the
unique electronic product code, or EPC, on Viagra packaging. Pfizer is
the first pharmaceutical company to put in place a comprehensive
program of this type focused on EPC authentication as a means of
Viagra was selected for the RFID project because it has been a major
target for counterfeiters.
Pfizer has invested several million dollars to date in the technology,
which discourages counterfeiting because it is both difficult and
expensive to duplicate. RFID tags incorporate the EPC into each
package, case and pallet of Viagra. Pharmacists and wholesalers use
specially-designed electronic scanners that communicate the code over
the internet to a secure Pfizer website.
"The primary goal for adding the technology is to enhance patient
safety," said Tom McPhillips, vice president of Pfizer's U.S. Trade
Group. "We want pharmacists who fill prescriptions for Pfizer
medicines, and patients who use those medicines, to have increased
confidence that they are receiving authentic product and not a
potentially dangerous fake. We are creating additional barriers for
criminals who might attempt to counterfeit our products."
The company's application of RFID is not yet capable of "tracking and
tracing" medicines through the distribution system. "Track and trace"
requires that all parts of the supply chain invest in compatible
technology and agree to capture and share information about product
movement. Pfizer will continue to explore the uses of this technology
-- including "track and trace" -- during the coming year.
Pfizer's application of RFID also does not allow for the collection of
any patient information.
The company is working cooperatively with standards setting bodies,
state governments, the FDA, industry groups and its customers to
establish policies for the widespread application of RFID in the
future. But, while the technology offers great promise as an
anti-counterfeiting tool, it alone will not eliminate drug
counterfeiting. Pfizer believes the problem must be addressed on many
different fronts, including tightening state regulations for the
licensing and distribution of pharmaceutical products, modifying
business practices, increasing enforcement, and using technology
Pfizer anticipates that it will take several years before RFID is
applied broadly throughout the pharmaceutical industry. Cost will be a
significant consideration, as well as the readability and reliability
of RFID tags. Standards must be developed to govern technology and
data exchange. And RFID also will require the pharmaceutical
distribution industry to change the way it does business.
For additional information about Pfizer's anti-counterfeiting
initiatives, or to learn more about the company's RFID program, please