Edible Barcodes to Choke Counterfeit Drug Market
Pharmaceuticals and food embedded with microtags could improve logistical tracking and help take a bite out of black markets. Continue reading →
In effort to thwart a trillion dollar global counterfeit problem, a Honolulu-based company has designed an security platform that could put edible barcodes on food and pharmaceuticals.
The microtags developed by TruTag Technologies are made from silica - an ingredient already found in many foods, including sweetners - and are independent of packaging and labels and can be integrated directly into a product's infrastructure. About the size of a dust particle and smaller than the width of a human hair, the silica "TruTags" provide a vast library of unique codes, allowing for improved tracking and authentication of electronics, industrial parts and consumer goods. Each tag's coded, nano-scale pattern can be scanned using the company's proprietary instruments. These patterns are like ID numbers that can be associated with a variety of information, such as product strength, site of manufacture, expiration date and country of authorized sale.
TruTags' creators said in a press release their platform "will help prevent counterfeiting, enhance the safety and traceability of food and medicine, improve tracking and logistics, assure product quality and enable the Internet of Things."
Putting product intelligence on a pill, instead of the package, could help drug manufactures and product security teams authenticate their product. A few years ago, GSK, one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world, was found guilty of felony distribution of adulterated drugs and paid a $750 million fine for mixing up an anti-anxiety drug and a diabetes drug in the same GSK packaging. Had the drugs been equipped with TruTag microtags, the inspectors could have determined where each pill was made to help diagnose where the problem was in their global supply chain.
TruTag has been named a 2014 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, an award given to 36 companies that are designing, developing and deploying innovative technologies that affect business and society. BLOG: Smart Syringe Sticks It To Blood-borne Disease
"I am looking forward to discussing the role of innovation for the future of society, and sharing our vision for TruTag to impact the global counterfeit problem, especially in the area of safety and authenticity of food and medicine where the impact of counterfeits on human lives is beyond measure," said Dr. Hank C.K. Wuh, TruTag Technologies chairman.