Purdue Pharma expects to combat drug counterfeiting with electronic tracking system
Blue Bell, PA, and Cambridge, MA — June 1, 2005 — Unisys Corp. and SupplyScape Corp. today announced a pilot that the companies said will be the first step to help secure the flow of prescription medicines from factory to pharmacy counter. The companies anticipate that the project will lead to the establishment of a national standard tracking system, which could help increase consumer safety and stem pharmaceutical companies' growing losses from fraud.
According to the companies, the pilot project is the pharmaceutical industry's first electronic drug pedigree, which is a certificate of authenticity detailing a drug's movement through the supply chain. It will track the distribution of one of Purdue Pharma L.P.'s analgesic products from the manufacturing facility to the seventh largest wholesaler in the United States, H. D. Smith. Using a universal electronic pedigree model, the providers said the system is designed to help reduce the risk of counterfeit medicines being introduced into the legitimate supply chain.
The pedigree management system is an open system with technology designed to certify medicines as legitimate throughout the supply chain. The system uses radio frequency identification (RFID) or barcodes to match each medication container with its corresponding pedigree. Without the pedigree, the providers said, it is difficult to determine where a drug has been and if it is authentic.
"An electronic drug pedigree further serves our primary goal of patient safety by enhancing both authentication and diversion control of prescription medications from the manufacturer through the wholesale distribution chain," said Aaron Graham, Purdue's vice president and chief security officer. "By partnering with H. D. Smith in this pilot protocol, we hope to create a model that the industry can follow."
Purdue has been vigilant in the fight against counterfeiting and diversion: In November 2004 the pharmaceutical company became one of the first to provide fully integrated, anti-counterfeiting packaging designed to protect prescription pain medicine against counterfeiting and diversion by launching a pilot program to integrate RFID tags into its product labeling. Initial shipments of the RFID-tagged bottles were sent to Wal-Mart and H. D. Smith.
"This pedigree project is a secure supply chain reference implementation for the industry," said Chuck Nardi, information officer of commercial systems, Purdue Pharma. "We chose to work with SupplyScape and Unisys because we believe they are leaders in electronic pedigree technology and related integration services, which will be instrumental in setting the standard for our industry and others."
The pilot, which is being supported by Intel Corp., will track drug distribution.Using self-authenticating pedigrees, Purdue and H. D. Smith will authenticate, certify and verify a positive match between drug and pedigrees.
"By next year, laws in several states will dictate that all drugs must have pedigrees, but until now companies have been unclear exactly how to comply," said Shabbir Dahod, president, SupplyScape. "With our system ready to go, customers have asked us to help accelerate their electronic pedigree deployments."
H. D. Smith, a wholesale distributor also on the vanguard of developing safe and secure supply chains, underscored the urgency to roll out working pedigree solutions.
"At H. D. Smith, we believe maximizing patient safety is important," said Robert Kashmer, Jr., vice president, information technology, H. D. Smith. "This e-pedigree project with Purdue, Unisys and SupplyScape is our first step toward pedigree compliance when we open our Florida distribution center later this year."
According to Unisys, which will serve as the implementation service provider for the pilot, the test should pave the way for national adoption of pedigree systems for all drugs. Unisys is hosting the pilot on its ES7000, an enterprise-class platform based on Intel's Xeon processor.
"Pharmaceutical companies are looking to institute standards that safeguard consumers from the growing threat of counterfeit drugs," said Todd Skrinar, partner, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Unisys. "The implementation of an electronic pedigree system can help Purdue increase consumer safety. The system will also provide greater visibility into Purdue and H. D. Smith's supply chains, which is expected to result in increased efficiencies for both companies."