More Layers to the Story

A security technology provider adds another wrinkle.

Many products have already been protected against counterfeiting using a packaging technology unbeknownst to consumers, Roland Meylan, corporate communications manager for AlpVision SA (Vevey, Switzerland), told attendees at Pharmapack 2010 in Paris. That protection could double, as the company recently introduced an accompanying technique that could bring security down to the tablet level.

“Our first deployments of Cryptoglyph were in 2002, and we’ve already protected billions of products,” Meylan explained. Cryptoglyph uses standard inks and printing processes to produce seemingly random dots that are invisible to the naked eye. But the dots form patterns that can contain encrypted information, and images of those patterns are recorded digitally. Microscopic differences in the thickness of the varnish layer help to hide the invisible marking. The process can be integrated easily to printing plate production, he says.

Using AlpVision technology, the unique "fingerprint" of a tablet punch can be recorded and used to identify authentic tablets in the supply chain.
Fingerprint technology can track tablets without using any additional marking, taggants, or substances.

AlpVision’s latest technology, Fingerprint, uses minute imperfections in tablet punch surfaces to build a secondary security pattern without any additional marking, taggant, or security substance. “Inherent variations in the punches can be recorded in templates,” Meylan explains. “One reference image can protect millions of items by comparing items to stored templates for matching.” The unique punch markings can be detected even if the tablets are later coated.

The unique, intrinsic properties of molded plastic items, too, can be imaged and recorded, he adds.

When a Pharmapack audience member asked whether tablet polishing removed any of the digitally captured “imperfections,” Meylan said that it could reduce “the signature’s signal. We use a signal-to-noise ratio approach when we do the matching of a solid part (tablet or molded part) with the stored references or templates, as a radar analyzes the noise coming from the sky and finds a signal in that noise that matches the reference signal of a dedicated plane.” He suggested “cutting back on polishing, since it is not employed for any purpose.” 

The digital images of both Cryptoglyph-marked packaging and labeling and Fingerprint-enabled items are managed and verified by the secured server Krypsos. AlpVision provides licenses to drug companies to access the software as a service as images are uploaded by printers and processors and later verified throughout the chain. “Manufacturers can then independently monitor their own supply chains,” he says.

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