Colorcon coalition puts edible barcodes on pills

A new innovation puts barcodes on pills rather than just packaging to guard against counterfeiting and ensure patients take the medications

A coalition of technology partners has demonstrated the mass digitalisation of pharmaceutical tablets. The supply chain simulation run by PwC Australia, Colorcon and TruTag Technologies showed smart tags on the actual pills rather than packaging.

This innovation creates a secure, direct link between a physical tablet (placebo) and a digital backend, without having to rely on the traditional approach of authenticating traditional packaging barcodes.

The companies have also announced their link to a Trillian-based trust ledger. The coalition believes this will provide a major step forward in ensuring supply chain integrity and addressing the growing problem of patient non-adherence.

Direct barcoding

The solution demonstrated has three components. The first is an intelligent coating system from Colorcon that is infused with spectrally-encoded particles, or TruTags, which act as edible barcodes.

The second is an authentication application that can be used on commonly available cell phones that decodes and verifies the embedded TruTags.

This application provides a link between the physical tablet and the third component of the solution, a Trillian based distributed- ledger operated by PwC Australia.

“Verifiable data ledger technology offers a new means of securing and sharing information. However, these systems are still reliant on ensuring a secure link via a crypto-anchor between the physical and digital world,” said Trent Lund, Partner at PwC Australia New Ventures. “TruTags are a perfect crypto-anchor for directly marking pharmaceuticals and foods.”

Beyond supply-chain integrity, this innovation could improve healthcare provider-patient communication and engagement

To date, the digitalisation of medicines has been inhibited by the economic, regulatory and technical limitations. The breakthrough represents a major step forward in the fight against unauthorised and illegitimate pharmaceutical production and a true opportunity for regulators and industry to safeguard patients and improve supply-chain efficiency.

“This technology represents a new era of security and transparency for the pharmaceutical industry in which patients can be empowered to authenticate their own medicines,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of TruTag Technologies.

Beyond improved supply-chain integrity, this innovation could drive better communication and engagement between healthcare providers and patients with the potential to improve patient adherence.

“Intelligent coatings represent an incredible opportunity for patient communication and data collection” said Kelly Boyer, General Manager, Film Coatings of Colorcon. “This technology represents a new era of security and transparency for the pharmaceutical industry in which patients can be empowered to authenticate their own medicines”.

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