RFID Talk Blog

More than a billion RFID tags to combat drug counterfeiting in Africa

For those that may have missed this week’s issue of RFID 24-7, here is our lead story. Let us know what you think!

RFID technology is playing a greater role in eliminating counterfeit products, from high-fashion apparel to costly pharmaceuticals. Chinese apparel maker Jossy Jo says an item-level solution has pulled the plug on counterfeits that formerly accounted for as much as three percent of sales.

And in Africa, more than a billion RFID tags and one million mobile readers could be in circulation within one to two years in an effort to curb the out of control drug counterfeiting that plagues many African nations, where counterfeit rates can reach 30 percent and higher.

The low-cost RFID authentication solution, which will rely on pen-like RFID readers/authenticators, will start to be deployed in Nigeria early next year. Developed by Verayo and SkyeTek, the solution offers authentication and security for a wide range of applications, including crucial documents and food items.

The two companies have partnered with GLOBALPCCA an investments and healthcare solutions group, to address the counterfeiting problem in Africa. In turn, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria has approved the use of the RFID-based system to authenticate pharmaceutical products and has signed on with GLOBALPCCA to manage the program. According to Dr. Steve Ams, the CEO of GLOBALPCCA, the Nigerian government will require all pharmacies to adopt the system once some pricing concerns and the logistics of tagging product at the source of manufacture is worked out.

Josh Peifer, director of business development at SkyeTek, says that the goal is to allow consumers or pharmacists to scan RFID-tagged product at the point of sale before the customer makes a purchase. In addition, pharmacists will have the ability to scan the product when it is received, assuring that products are authentic and were not swapped out during transport in the supply chain. Peifer says that the simple to use pen-like reader, which is battery operated and lasts for 12 hours on a single charge, uses Verayo’s PUF authentication protocol and flashes a green light if the product is authentic, and a red light if the product was tampered with.

The solution includes Verayo’s PUF technology based unclonable RFID ICs paired with SkyeTek’s compact RFID readers to provide a secure, easy-to-use authentication solution at the lowest cost. Per GLOBALPCCA’s specifications, SkyeTek created RFID readers in several form factors: a small pen-sized form factor for consumers to carry in their pocket or handbag to authenticate products at the point-of-sale, and a tray-sized form factor for pharmacies to authenticate products before sale to consumers.

“We are excited to partner with Verayo and incorporate its innovative PUF technology with our RFID readers to provide consumers with the ultimate anti-counterfeiting solution,” says Daniel Frydenlund, CEO of SkyeTek. “It has been a privilege to work with GLOBALPCCA in implementing this solution in a way that will ultimately help people in Africa fight this counterfeiting threat.”

NAFDAC intends to make the readers available to consumers free of cost, and expects that pharmaceutical manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers will absorb the cost of implementing the program. In addition, the Nigerian government will fund part of the project.

“The goal is to make sure not a single drug [increases] in price because of added technology,” says Ams. “We are working with NAFDAC to make sure that is the case.”

“Counterfeiting is a huge problem seeking a solution,” says Anant Agrawal, CEO of Verayo. “The only way to address this problem is by empowering the consumers so that they themselves can authenticate the product they are buying. Working with SkyeTek and GLOBALPCCA, we have created what I believe is a very simple, secure and yet low-cost RFID authentication solution. We believe this solution will help consumers in Africa easily and securely authenticate everyday products and lead a safer life.”

As for the Jossy Jo application, the solution from Jawasoft China and UPM Raflatac provides real-time data for logistics operations and streamlines cooperation between Jossy Jo and its franchisees. The solution is an efficient brand protection tool, helping prevent counterfeit products from reaching stores. Jossy Jo currently uses more than two million ShortDipole RFID tags a year from UPM Raflatac to track and trace their garments.

The solution covers Jossy Jo’s entire operations, from production planning where production tasks are generated and assigned, to specific plants. RFID labels are sent to each production plant and attached to every garment during the production phase, boosting quality control as faulty garments can be easily traced back to the point of production.

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