Is that ViagraŽ in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

November 16, 2004

The story about tagging of containers of high-value, frequently counterfeited pharmaceutical products is all over the place (NY Times, Slashdot):

The New York Times reports that the FDA and drug makers are going to begin using RFID tags on drugs, especially often-counterfitted (sic) drugs such as Viagra. Currently, the plan is to only tag the large bottles that pharmacists count out pills from, but the system could be expanded to cover individual retail containers of drugs once prices drop.

The Farkleberries blog raises a valid point:
One obvious way of circumventing the "is that ViagraŽ in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" problem would be to transfer the medication after purchase into a non-tagged bottle, and to discard the empty "bugged" container in the pharmacy's trashcan. However, I seem to recall that many prescription medications are unlawful to possess outside of their original pharmacy packaging - as it's then difficult to prove the drugs are legitimately prescribed - and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if a new Federal law eventually appears, making possession of "tagged"-class drugs outside of radio-labeled containers a crime.


Posted by andersja

Comments

The initial trials are for the large pharmacy supply containers, rather than the small containers used for a patient's individual prescription aren't they ?

Obviously if RFID tags for individual prescriptions did ever become widespread, nobody would dream of "framing" someone maliciously or "for a laugh" with Viagra or methadone heroin substitute or anti-AIDS drugs etc. either with the packaging, or by faking the RFID product codes on a programmable RFID tag, would they ?

Posted by: Watching Them, Watching Us at November 16, 2004 04:05 PM

It is indeed for the larger "bulk" containers in the first place, I just liked the Farkleberries' thoughts on future use; should RFID tag prices fall (inevitable) and start being used on smaller containers (a possibility), they quite rightly point out that you might not even be ALLOWED to change the containers of the meds.

That being said, I guess you could always give it (the tagged, emptied container) a quick fry in the microwave...

Posted by: Anders at November 16, 2004 04:34 PM

Anders, thank you for linking to my blog post - I like the idea of giving the container a quick "nuking" in the microwave. ;)

Seriously, though, it would seem there are many alternative ways to prevent drug counterfeiting without using RFID chips. Specially sealed, serial-numbered containers with barcodes, etc., or switching to individual tamperproof blister-packs with anti-counterfeiting packaging measures would also work as well - which leads me to suspect the true targets of this latest twist in ID chipping are the -people- who possess the medications, not the pills themselves.

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