RFID in Pharmaceutical Industry

Posted by Melda Research on February 4th, 2019


The pharmaceutical industry among the principal industries that normally deal directly with the healthcare issues of the human being as well as animals, manufacture of medicine as well as the distribution of medicine to the public. The basis of operation in this industry is the fact that there are no “seconds” in that any defective products cannot sell in the market. Thus, the medicines being sold should be able to meet specific quality parameters accepted on a universal basis. These parameters encompass the strength, identity, purity as well as the safety of the medical products. All the medicals products should meet these parameters as they offer the necessary efficacy in the final pharmaceutical products. RFID offers advantages for this industry as it makes it possible to track different products in the supply chain in an efficient manner providing real-time visibility while in transmit and monitoring the assets of the general enterprise.


Security, as well as safety, is the two principal attributes that any desirable pharmaceutical supply chain should be able to meet with the issues of realizing this objective challenges issues. The desire to authenticate as well as secure the pharmaceutical products have additionally increased tremendously was a result of the fast growing counterfeit market. The pharmaceutical industry is normally different in comparison to any other industry, and thus the requirements for the most effective identification systems are unlike any other in the business. The assertion is the attribute that makes the need to introduce RFID to the industry very critical. The fact that nearly every person in the world uses pharmaceuticals drugs, it makes their reach global making their impact in the event there is a problem catastrophic (Schapranow, Müller, Zeier, & Plattner, 2012).

 The pharmaceutical industry requires RFID in addition to the fact that the implementation of the technology should be immediate. Research offers the indication that the RFID market targets will reach over .1 billion by the year 2016, with the demand being driven by the desire for more convenient and genuine solutions in pharmaceutical packing. The demanded platform needs to guarantee the quality of the products as well as their usability in addition to improving the efficiency as well as the security of the supply chain. The consideration of how profitable the industry is, it makes it logical that all the players in the supply chain spend a lot to improve the present situation as any recalls are extremely damaging as they are expensive (Singh, Kumar, Kaur, & Aboul-Enein, 2008).

The FDA stepped up its efforts towards the improvements of the safety as well as the security of the drugs supply via encouraging the utilization of the state of art technology with the ability to electronically tag product packaging. The technology known as the RFID permits the manufacturers as well as distributors to precisely track the drug products throughout the supply chain. The technology makes it easier to guarantee that the drugs are authentic in addition to creating an electronic pedigree that is the record of custody chain from the manufacturing point to that of dispensing. The electronic pedigree improves the safety of patients and protection of the public health via permitting the retailers and wholesalers to identify quarantine as well as report suspected counterfeit cases fast. Additionally they can carry out the efficient as well as target recalls more rapidly thus promoting the safety of their clients. The motivation behind the introduction of the counterfeit pharmaceutical products in their supply chain is to realize fast economic benefits. The additional rationale is to taint the reputation of a strong brand that operates in the pharmaceutical industry. The implementation and adoption of RFID by the players in this industry is thus with the objective of weeding out this counterfeit challenge (Caton, 2004).

There are numerous benefits that the pharmaceutical industry normally accrues as a result of incorporating RFID into their supply chain. The first benefit follows the fact that the stocking of drugs is normally a complicated process that requires a lot of information as well as an organization that it is in any other item. Additionally a supply chain that is more efficient would additionally assist the organization to save money. Other than these reasons, the main Issus that warrants the adoption of RFID in pharmacy encompasses the promotion of safety of the patients. With the availability of a more accurate model of preventing errors about the drugs, it is of great significance that the drug companies adopt RFID in their supply chain processes. The research additionally indicates that the company that has already adopted RFID in their supply chain are reaping major benefits in the dispensation of their drugs (Rahman & Ahamed, 2014).

The difference in comparison of the adoption of RFID between the food and pharmaceutical industries is the fact that the two have dissimilar priorities. The food industry needs the RFIS on pallets as well as the cases that the retailers normally make requests while in the pharmaceutical industry; the main interest is in the use of RFID on the individual items. In a divergence from the food industry, the principal concern in the adoption of RFID in the pharmaceutical industry is for the upholding of the safety as well as the wellbeing of the patient. In this case, RFID is normally applicable in cases whereby it can taken with the pertinent to their homes, offices and still function and assist these individuals with the medical needs. Conversely, the chief rationale that the pharmaceutical company is incorporating RFID is with the objective of eliminating counterfeiting. Through the incorporation of the RFID in their processes, it is possible to eliminate the counterfeiting menace via guaranteeing that all the drugs are the correct drugs (Rahman & Ahamed, 2014).

The majority of the players in the industry are utilizing the high-frequency RFID I place of the cheaper counterpart the ultra-high-frequency RFID. The main rationale is as a result of their small size there manufacturing generates. The small size thus makes it possible to place the RFID on the specific blister packs making it possible to gather more information relating to the medication. The information that the RFID will provide will include issues of whether the drugs were taken on time whether tampered with as well as the environmental conditions each pill faced during the transportation (Chang, et al., 2015).

RFID Overview

RFID is normally a model of wireless communication that utilizes the user radio waves for the identification as well as tracking of objects. The RFID technology takes on the bar-coding technology and consequently digitizes it to fit in the contemporary world to offer the specialized abilities and solve the recurrent challenges of the society. The RFID technology offers the exclusive ability to identify uniquely the individual item beyond the common product type. Additionally it makes it possible to identify products that are not in direct line of sight and the identification of numerous items simultaneously. The technology normally possesses the ability to identify items in a vicinity of between a few to some meters (Coustasse, Arvidson, & Rutsohn, 2010).

The RFID system normally possesses readers as well as tags that facilitate the communication with one another via radio. The RFID tags are normally very small and consequently need the little power to an extent that they do not require to have a battery for the storage of information as well as exchanging the data with readers. These attributes normally make it simple as well as easy to apply the tags to the diverse kinds of things that people normally have the desire to track. The rationale for the utilization of the RFID is their ability to enhance greatly and at the same time protect the lives of consumers and at the same time revolutionaries the manner in which companies operates their businesses. Being the most flexible system that promotes auto identification using technology, the RFID can assist in the tracking as well as monitoring the physical world automatically as well as with great accuracy. The RFID makes it possible to tell where an object is, what it is as well as the condition that it is in, an integral component in the development various internet aspects (Rahman & Ahamed, 2014).

The basic RFID system encompasses the tags attached to the items for tracking. The tags are normally from tiny chips called the integrated circuit (IC), connected to the antenna that can build on numerous dissimilar types of tags. The tag chip normally has a memory that stores the electronic product code of the products as well as the additional valuable information to read as well as track by the RFID readers everywhere. An RFID reader entails a network connected appliance having an antenna that normally sends power along with data and commands to the tags. The RFID reader functions as an access point for the items tagged the RFID to make it possible for the tags data to be available to the business applications Schapranow, Müller, Zeier, & Plattner, 2012).

The High-Frequency RFID

The high-frequency RFID is normally a model of the passive RFID tags. These tags do not have any internal source of power as exists only as a transponder encompassing of only a microchip as well as an antenna referred to as the RFID inlay. The term is an implication of the assertion that the tags normally wait for the interrogating signal that comes from the reader. Once the tag reaches a designation that within the range of the interrogation zone, the antenna of the RFID normally draws power from the electromagnetic waves.  The moment the microchip tag gets the power, it can transmit the signal (Schapranow, Müller, Zeier, & Plattner, 2012). The change that takes place in the electromagnetic wave is normally detectable by the antenna of the reader that consequently interprets the information. It is quintessential to make sure that the antennas of both the reader as well as the tag are close to one another at a distance of a few meters. Since these tags do not possess their power, they possess lower memory capacities, as well as possessing shorter, read ranges in comparison to the active RFIDs. On the other hand, these are normally cheaper to thus making them the best choice for industries with a huge requirement of tags. Additionally these tags are smaller size when compared to the active RFID tags and could be as thin as a sheet of paper. The decrease in the cost of the tags has seen industries such as pharmaceuticals adopt the technology in a robust manner (Chang, et al., 2015).

Advances in RFID

The recent advances in the RFID technology encompass the development of the programs that applies the EPCglobal Gen2- as well as FCC-compliant STAR reader system. The system offers the capabilities of redoing the passive RFID tags from expansive distances or up to 190 meters. The features that the STAR reader system possesses include more than 100000 times superior indoor reading capabilities in comparison to the previous RFID solutions.  Additionally the advancement increases the read range by more than 20 times more than the conventional RFID readers. It additionally comes with the no line of sight capabilities. Additionally the technological advances have improved the specialized RFID tags making them possess the ability to operate on water as well as metal surfaces and encounter minimal interference (Chang, et al., 2015).

Benefits and Disadvantages of the RFID System

  • The advantages that come with the RFID technology revolve around the fact that the tag detection does not need the mediation of human beings. As a result, the industry that adopts the technology can reduce their employment costs as well as eliminating the costly issue of human errors.
  • The fact that the technology promotes a no line of sight platform makes the placement of tags a less constrained aspect
  • The adoption of the RFID technology will assist in the elimination of the bar coding technology which possess the limitation of having a short range of read
  • The tags possess huge memory capabilities that normally give them an advantage over the bar codes
  • The fact that the RFID tags have to differentiation between the various dissimilar objects as well as the fact that it can store information gives it advantages over the traditional methods such as barcodes
  • The RFID tags are normally less sensitive to the various conditions such as dust, physical damage as well as chemicals
  • The ability to read numerous objects simultaneously is the additional advantage that the RFID normally possess
  • The ability of the RFID tags to automatically read objects at various places plays the role of reducing the time lags as well as inaccuracies that are common in an inventor
  • These tags have the ability reduce the inventory control as well as the provisioning of cost 

Some of the limitations of the RFID technology encompass the fact that purchasing the active RFID is normally limiting as it is very expensive as a result of incorporating the batteries. Additionally, the utilization of the RFID needs to have regulations that guide their use as well as applications. There are numerous privacy concerns that revolve around the technology making it unpopular among the customers’ who believe their privacy infringed. The likelihood of the RFID being intercepted is normally high even when the content has encrypted.  The extensive duration taken in programming the RFID devices is the additional demerit associated with the RFID adoption (Singh, Kumar, Kaur, & Aboul-Enein, 2008).

 Security Attentions or Practices Associated With the RFID System

The security issues that revolve around the implementation of the systems encompass the fact that it is possible for criminals to clone the RFID devices thus can have assessed to the confidential data. Additionally accessing the information on the RFID system does not ask for authentication and as a result, anyone with little knowledge of the system can access the data. The fact that there is no encryption makes it additionally easy for people to eavesdrop the information they should not access (Weis, 2004).

Impact of Implementation

The adoption of the RFIS system in the pharmaceutical supply chain will have a huge improvement in the operations of their supply chain. As a result, it will imperative that the HR department to undertake to train for the employees utilizing the system to promote the efficiency as well as productivity. Additionally it will be imperative to train the employees on the installing of the readers as well as trackers to promote the effectiveness of the system. Reallocation duties for the employees who previously worked in the supply chain to the other departments will be an additional process for promoting the efficiency of the system as fewer employees are needed. Additionally it will be imperative for and the organization to place policies that will guide spells out the number of individuals with access to the systems to be able to promote the security aspects. (Singh, Kumar, Kaur, & Aboul-Enein, 2008).


The fact that the pharmaceutical industry serves almost everyone in the world emphasize the need to ensure that they product they offer is safe for the users. The expensive nature of the recalls additionally highlights the issue o costs effectiveness as the cost they will be incurring in adopting the RFID systems is less to the losses they will incur as a result of the recalls. The adoption of the RFID technology in the pharmaceutical industry offers the much-desired effectiveness as well as efficiency in their supply chain. Through the adoption of RFID, they will enhance the efficiency as well as reduce the huge costs that were as a result of the failing supply chain.


Caton, M. (2004). Drug companies look to RFID. Eweek21(16), 48.

Chang, S., Lu, L., Liu, X., Song, H., & Yao, Q. (2015). Vulnerability aware graphs for RFID protocol security benchmarking.Journal Of Computer & System Sciences81(6), 1027-1041. 

Coustasse, A., Arvidson, C., & Rutsohn, P. (2010). Pharmaceutical Counterfeiting and the RFID Technology Intervention.Journal Of Hospital Marketing & Public Relations20(2), 100-115. 

Rahman, F., & Ahamed, S. (2014). Efficient detection of counterfeit products in large-scale RFID systems using batch authentication protocols. Personal & Ubiquitous Computing,18(1), 177-188. 

Schapranow, M., Müller, J., Zeier, A., & Plattner, H. (2012). Costs of authentic pharmaceuticals: research on qualitative and quantitative aspects of enabling anti-counterfeiting in RFID-aided supply chains. Personal & Ubiquitous Computing,16(3), 271-289. 

Singh, I., Kumar, M., Kaur, J., & Aboul-Enein, H. Y. (2008). Versatility of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Instrumentation Science & Technology36(6), 656-663. 

Weis, S. E. Sarma, R. L. Rivest, D. W. Engels. (2004). “Security and Privacy Aspects of Low-cost Radio Frequency Identification Systems”,  in D. Hutter et al. Edn. Security in Pervasive Computing 2003, LNCS 2802, pp. 201-212, 2004

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in College Essay Writing Service if you need a similar paper you can place your order from cheap essay help online.

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