More on the mPedigree idea

Thanks to Charmine for your comment to this morning’s post (would you like to identify yourself though?)

Just a couple more thoughts on this one.

Every time I hear someone tell me something is foolproof I wonder what the snag is – even when, as in this case, it looks like a winner. The BBC World Service clip linked from the mPedigree page addressed one thing: as a single use code, mPedigree should be difficult to forge. And it should be a lot cheaper at the point of sale than the alternative RFID solutions: no expensive, possibly unreliable (in those conditions) reader required.

But as well as the harmful effects of the counterfeits, Pharma is concerned about grey re-imports, particularly of drugs donated free or sold at manufacturing cost in the developing world. That applies to major initiatives like GSK’s AIDS and filiariasis projects (meaning the donation gets intercepted and is then sold back into the western market). This raises the cost of drugs for all of us. High-touch manual intervention like the mPedigree system can’t help here; but RFID can in principle detect smuggled packs without seeing or touching them. There’s also the very significant point that major retailers like WalMart and benefit agencies like the US Veterans Administration are mandating RFID at least at the pallet level; so quite a lot of the RFID cost is going to have to be incurred anyway.

But I’d think a combination of the two technologies ought to be a possibility. Maybe I feel a question coming on for the next AGM.

• Global health programmes (filiariasis, malaria, AIDS, public health) – GlaxoSmithKline Community
• GlaxoSmithKline begins testing new technology – this GSK press release from 2006 is about the RFID option
(I pick on GSK because I used to work for them and know about it)

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