Avery Dennison bids to get more RFID tags on pharma packages


Company offers a plug-and-play bundle of tags, readers and data collection

As industry insiders know, RFID (radio-frequency identification) never truly went away after most of the global pharma industry settled, around 2010, on 2D barcodes as the best way to track pharma packages through the supply chain. Some manufacturers added the tags, which allow for identification and location status without direct line-of-sight access, to all the other encoding required by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) in the US, and the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) in the EU. More recently, Kit Check, a US company, has built a substantial business around RFID-tagging pharma packages going to hospital systems. Hospital pharmacy directors are finding that the tags improve inventory management, and also provide some protection against improper diversion of controlled substances.

Now, Avery Dennison Smartrac—one of Kit Check’s main providers of tags—is expanding its product offering to attract more pharma business. (Avery, which was a player in the 2000s-era RFID campaign, acquired Amsterdam-based Smartrac a year ago.) In recent weeks, it has announced two tag designs, the RAINFC Belt DF tag (operating at both high-frequency, or NFC-specified, and ultra-high frequency ranges) and the Minidose U8, an ultra-high frequency RFID tag. The RAINFC tag can be purchased in a 10,000-unit plug-and-play program combined with a trial subscription to OMNI, a blockchain-based data collection system from an Avery business partner, SUKU.

“The pharma industry, like other client industries, is pushing us to be creative with product offerings that provide agility and that meet a variety of use cases, such as contactless delivery or operating in various temperature and environmental conditions,” says Amir Khoshniyati, head of NFC business for Avery Dennison Smartrac. He adds that the Minidose tag has a small form factor (22x12 mm) and is geared toward applications such as vials.

“OMNI is designed to provide supply chains with trust,” says Lucas Henning, chief technology officer at SUKU. Besides the distributed-ledger aspect of blockchain, he says the tag-platform combination enables each reading of the tag to be documented automatically, thus providing a chain of custody without the intervention of a third party (who might not be trusted to provide accurate information).

Avery Dennison Smartrac is a member of DoseID, an industry consortium started by Kit Check and other companies in the RFID/healthcare space. That consortium, first announced less than a year ago, now has 24 members, including such pharma companies as Sandoz, Baxter and Hikma, and five outsourced compounding pharmacies. DoseID appears to have a complementary position to the rest of the industry that is striving to meet a 2023 compliance deadline with DSCSA: DoseID vendor-members don’t themselves offer DSCSA compliance, but their technologies can be part of a compliance program.

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