New Prescription for Pharmaceuticals

Accenture partners with nearly a dozen health care firms to determine RFID's true value.

Is all the RFID noise giving you a headache? Take two aspirin and call Accenture Ltd. in the morning.

The management consulting firm has organized a group of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and retailers to explore radio frequency identifications (RFIDs) true ability to:

• enhance the safety and security of the pharmaceutical supply chain;

• improve the process of pharmaceutical returns management; and

* increase the efficiency of distribution operations.

Key project partners include Abbott Laboratories, Barr Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health, CVS Pharmacy, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Rite Aid, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) and National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). The group plans to test how RFID technology can improve:

• expiration date management;

• lot and batch tracking;

• returns management processing;

• shipping and receiving accuracy;

• operational integrity;

• and product security and consumer safety, among other areas.

Separately, Sun Microsystems Inc. and SupplyScape have launched an "anti-counterfeiting" RFID package that protects pharmaceuticals as they move through the supply chain.

These developments sound promising, but I suspect RFID is still 12 to 18 months away from wide scale deployment at most companies. (Read why in my recent RFID feature in eWeek).

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