Edible silica tags could help prevent counterfeiting of medicines
17 June 2009
Cellular Bioengineering, Inc. (CBI) is developing a novel technology
that can help prevent not only counterfeit medicine and other
consumables, but can also be used in a wide range of often-counterfeit
goods from airplane parts, great works of art, currency, electronic
components, high value added ingredients, to cosmetics and luxury goods.
CBI's TruTag presents a breakthrough in the fight against counterfeit
medicine, food, and consumer goods. The tags are made of the highest
purity silica, rendering them biologically inert and edible. Each tag
contains a custom-manufactured 'spectral signature' chosen from over one
trillion possibilities. The unique choice of tag signature and product
combination is the TruTag key to confirming the authenticity of the
product, yet each tag costs less than a penny.
"The ability to authenticate and track individual pills is an
exciting and potentially valuable tool in the effort to fight
counterfeit pharmaceuticals," said Paul Kocher, Founder and Chief
Scientist, Cryptography Research, Inc.
"I believe CBI is breaking ground on a new modality of safety,
assurance and information essential for consumers and the US
Government," said Admiral Thomas Fargo USN (Ret), Former Commander US
Pacific Command. "This project has the potential to save lives and make
a significant contribution towards the safety and authentication of wide
ranging goods and products."
Ten percent of all drugs sold worldwide are counterfeit according to
US FDA estimates. Annual global trade in counterfeit goods is estimated
to be $600 billion and growing. Counterfeit goods and drugs pose a real
threat to consumer safety as well as to companies whose brands are
compromised and profits stolen.
At present, the primary means of tracking and verifying is through
packaging and labeling. However, technologies such as radio-frequency
identifiers (RFIDs) are not amenable to direct tagging of small or
consumable items. The cheapest RFIDs are also relatively expensive at 7
to 15 cents each.
Package-based security is also inherently weak since the valued
product is not the package, but the item contained. CBI is developing
TruTag technology with the award of a co-operative agreement from the US
government to help combat counterfeit drugs, and has established
collaboration with Silicon Kinetics, Inc. of San Diego, California and
its porous silicon labs in Maui.
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