Growing Controversy

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2006-06-09 Print this article Print

While there has been growing controversy in consumer advocate groups over a number of areas the Task Force highlighted (privacy and security chief among them), vendors have also had battles regarding standards. One brouhaha is over whether HF (high frequency) or the newer UHG (ultra high frequency) is the better tag and reader frequency on which industries should standardize—particularly in the case of tagging sensitive drugs.
The fear with UHF, which is based on the Gen 2 standard for tags and readers, is that the electricity generated from the reader to the tag during a read would be similar to popping a cup of coffee in the microwave for too long.
Proponents of UHF, primarily vendors looking to implement Gen 2 in their products, say the claims are bunk. On June 8 a consortium of companies—ADT/Tyco Fire & Security, Alien, Impinj, Intel, Symbol and Xterprise—sponsored a white paper meant to dispel myths about UHF vs. HF. In summary, the FDA Task Force made a number of recommendations to those along the pharmaceutical supply chain: that they continue moving forward in implementing RFID; that they consider a phased-in approach to RFID, targeting high-value and high-theft drugs first; and that stakeholders explore the use of RFID for tracking medical countermeasures. At the same time, the report recommends that the FDA work with industry, standards organizations and others to facilitate RFID implementation, and that it move to quickly to complete its own RFID Impact Study—and publicly share the results. To read more about the FDAs guidelines on pharmaceutical RFID, click here. The report also has some significant recommendations privacy and data encryption. In addition to forming its own task force to test RFID, the report recommends the FDA create an industry-wide label pointing out RFID-tagged drugs, and that it commit resources to a public education program on RFID. "Privacy issues are a real concern for consumers and FDA. These concerns will continue unless there is appropriate disclosures of the presence of an RIFD tag on containers given to patients and sufficient education about the application, true risks, benefits and vulnerabilities associated with RFID on drug products," reads the report. "This is no easy task." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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