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Walgreens commits to RFID/EPC technology

National drugstore chain Walgreen Co. in November announced that it is participating in programs testing radio-frequency identification (RFID) and electronic product code (EPC) technologies.
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Deerfield IL-based Walgreen’s is involved in an industry program called Project Jumpstart (see packworld.com/go/c122) whose goal is to drive implementation of RFID and EPC technology. As part of Jumpstart Walgreens received prescription products from several manufacturers and a distributor with RFID tags placed on bottles and cases.

“The potential to electronically track and trace product at the bottle level through the entire drug supply chain offers great promise toward eliminating counterfeit medications” said Walgreen’s CIO Trent Taylor. “Although significant steps remain before these systems can be fully implemented we know our goals can be reached.” The full press release is available at www.walgreens.com/about/press/othernews/111504.jhtml.

Walgreen’s announcement came the same day that the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) called “Radiofrequency Identification Feasibility Studies and Pilot Programs for Drugs.” The CPG’s goal said FDA “is to facilitate the performance of RFID studies and allow industry to gain experience with the use of RFID. We believe that use of RFID technology is critical to ensuring the long-term safety and integrity of the U.S. drug supply.” To access the press release type in “RFID” in the search area of Web site: www.fda.gov.

“We’re hopeful today’s FDA announcement will encourage more companies to become involved in these efforts so that technical issues can be resolved even faster” said Walgreen’s Taylor. —JB

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