In an effort to protect patients from counterfeit products, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has attached radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on all bottles of its HIV treatment Trizivir distributed in the U.S.
The RFID-tagged bottles will begin appearing on pharmacists' shelves in mid-April, the firm said recently. When scanned at close range, the tags will help verify that the medicine bottle contains authentic Trizivir.
GSK selected Trizivir for the RFID technology initiative because it has been listed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as one of 32 drugs most susceptible to counterfeiting and diversion, the firm said. Approved in 2000, Trizivir is a fixed-dose combination of Ziagen (abacavir), Retrovir (zidovudine) and Epivir (lamivudine). RFID tagging allows firms to more precisely account for products as they move through the distribution chain, GSK said. The technology also allows healthcare workers to authenticate drugs at the point of dispensation.
RFID uses a silicon chip and antenna about the size of a postage stamp that is attached to each medicine bottle. The chip stores a unique product code that reflects information about the drug's manufacturing and shipping history. The product code can be read using a handheld or stationary electronic device.