Accenture Forms RFID Industry Group

To evaluate technology's value in pharmaceutical industry


To evaluate technology's value in pharmaceutical industry

Washington — March 10, 2004 — Accenture this week announced the formation of a group of industry leaders that will work together to evaluate the potential of new radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to enhance pharmaceutical product manufacturing, distribution and retail operations within the United States.

Accenture said it is serving as program manager for the group of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and retailers, which includes Abbott Laboratories, Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardinal Health, CVS Pharmacy, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Rite Aid and others.

Additionally, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) and National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) are supporting the group by providing their members with additional information and education-related opportunities for the program.

Accenture said the project would explore the application of electronic product code (EPC) and RFID and technologies to three areas: enhancing the safety and security of the pharmaceutical supply chain, improving the process of pharmaceutical returns management, and increasing the efficiency of distribution operations.

The group also plans to encourage use of the new EPC digital identification standard throughout the pharmaceutical industry.

"These technologies are becoming widely recognized as a powerful tool," said Jamie Hintlian, a partner in Accenture's Health & Life Sciences practice. "The RFID initiative is groundbreaking in that it brings together leading companies across the pharmaceutical industry, not only to design and evaluate ways to improve supply chain integrity and accuracy, but also to help consumers receive authentic medicines."

In studying these issues, the group has worked with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force on how RFID and EPC technologies can mitigate the risk of counterfeit drugs making it to market.

In addition, the group plans to test how RFID technology can improve:
* Expiration date management
* Lot and batch tracking
* Returns management processing
* Shipping and receiving accuracy
* Operational integrity
* Product security and consumer safety

"The program's goal is to explore the benefits that full adoption of this emerging technology could bring to consumers as well as companies throughout the pharmaceutical supply chain," said Lyle Ginsburg, a partner in Accenture's Products Operating Group. "We also plan to help participating companies accelerate the technology learning curve and to share our findings with the industry."

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