By Marie Redding
Different suppliers are skilled in different areas, and pharma companies may sometimes benefit from their past experiences, often in other industries. One important part of an anti-counterfeit solution is choosing the right mix of covert and overt technologies, combined with the latest digital printing technologies.
Nosco has been working with the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 80 years, supplying packaging and working to develop new printed security features, like its new SignaKey (see sidebar below). “We protect products, brand identities and brand values against counterfeiting, diversion and gray market abuses through the use of proprietary symbology and a closed loop process,” says Scott McFall, packaging advisor, medical device manager, Nosco.
Clondalkin Pharma & Healthcare was formerly called Keller Crescent, but is now part of Clondalkin Group. The company helps with the move to serialization by providing E-Pedigree solutions that incorporate 2D bar codes and variable data information.
“You can build uniqueness into every label,” Clondalkin Pharma & Healthcare’s Chaplin advises customers. He also says all of the labeling systems they have built over the past few years are 'track-and-trace ready,' so with minimal updates they will be able to meet California's 2015 coding standard.
Kodak Security Solutions works with customers to develop and deliver turnkey or modular track and trace packaging line solutions, to combat both diversion and counterfeiting. Kodak says its Traceless serialization technologies are truly invisible. A diverter can’t remove the mark and a counterfeiter can’t copy it, because it can’t be found – but, the invisible code can be traced back to the distributor or last point of sale.
“Kodak’s high-security anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion Traceless technologies are key components of these solutions,” says Keith Cutri, director of business development, Kodak Security Solutions. “Our high security coding technology provides brand owners with a secure coding solution that also serves as a covert authentication mark,” he adds.
Labeling Systems brings its past experience with RFID and 2D track and trace systems to the table. The company offers customers a turnkey experience by managing all the software and hardware that is involved in anti-counterfeiting systems.
“We manage the data and make sure the counters, printers and rejection systems are all working with the software. We're one of the few companies who do both,” says Bronander.
Often, suppliers will apply experience learned through other industries to the pharma world.
SIPCA’s Henderson stresses the value of partnering with a company that can oversee the entire serialization process. SICPA helps secure supply chains by using integrated systems that combine authentication with material-based security ink technology and information-based secure supply chain technology.
“There's a lot of misuse of technology out there. We work with companies to identify the issues they want to address, determining what they want to accomplish – that's an important first step,” Henderson says. “We also understand the nuances of the pharma business, which is key,” he adds.
SICPA's extensive experience includes marking and tracking billions of tobacco and alcohol products in many countries, including Brazil and Turkey. The company is the leading provider of security inks and solutions for the majority of the world’s banknotes. SICPA also manages cigarette-stamping programs in California, Massachusetts and Canada.
Omega Design is another company on the ‘short list’ of companies with extensive experience. The company makes packaging equipment for bottling lines. “We provide serialization solutions beginning with a process for uniquely identifying all bottles as they’re fed from bulk. We use this identification process to secure the entire line and ultimately, to create and verify higher levels of aggregation,” says Brown.
“Bottles are fed into an unscrambler. The bottles are turned upside down and a unique code is printed on the bottom of the bottle. A camera scans each code and verifies the code is readable, otherwise the bottle is rejected. Only approved bottles are sent down the line for further packaging,” says Brown.
Omega Design works collaboratively with data management companies, helping to oversee the serialization process at the line level. Together, they can use their identification process for an additional benefit.
“We can collect unique bottle data, such as fill count, cap torque, the induction seal temperature and the checked weight.
“We can sync this data to a database and to the individual bottles. This real-time data secures the line, and even adds to line OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). Finally, once the bottle gets to the labeling system, we sync the bottom code to the fully serialized 2D code on the label – creating the first part of a bottle’s e-Pedigree,” explains Brown.
Specialization is Equally Important
Although it’s wise to choose a partner with extensive experience in the entire serialization process, specialists are often needed in some areas. Coding and marking are key in the packaging process for pharmaceuticals, and that’s where Domino’s expertise lies. Domino helps its customers with solutions for batch based or individual item coding for serialized product tracking, product traceability, track-and-trace and anti-counterfeit applications.
Domino’s Stobie says they don’t do software, comparing the parts of a serialization system to the parts of a car. “We’ve found that those who make wheels aren’t good at making engines. And tire experts should specialize in making the best tires,” Stobie says. Domino is sticking to what it knows best -- making sure every coding device is a leader in its class.
Domino came up with the technology to code and mark British eggs with expiration dates – and is able to trace them from “harvest to table.” Domino uses its laser and ink jet coding equipment, as well as 2D Data Matrix coding technology, to mark and trace eggs. In April, the company signed a new deal, and they have started to apply traceability technologies to the U.S. egg industry.
Similar to what’s happening in the pharmaceutical industry, U.S. food safety legislation is imposing new requirements on U.S. egg producers to protect consumers from eggs contaminated with salmonella. More than six billion dozen eggs are produced in the U.S. each year, and last year more than 500 million eggs were recalled due to salmonella, causing 3,578 illnesses as reported by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.