Frequencies for item-level Rx RFID apps

Three vendors have collaborated on a 28-page white paper that compares HF and UHF RFID technologies.

Philips, TAGSYS, and Texas Instruments have collaborated on a joint white paper, Item Level Visibility in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: A Comparison of HF and UHF RFID Technologies. The 28-page PDF-format document details the technical capabilities, deployment characteristics, and applicability of passive high-frequency (HF) and ultra-high-frequency (UHF) technology for pharmaceutical item-level tracking applications of radio-frequency identification. It also highlights some of the existing commercial pharmaceutical and healthcare pilots and implementations. One chapter compares the advantages of RFID versus bar codes.

The pharmaceutical industry is looking to RFID as a primary way of improving the safety and efficiency of the international drug supply chain through counterfeit prevention, decreased shrinkage and diversion, improved inventory management, and faster product recalls. According to the Food and Drug Administration, RFID provides the most promising approach for reliably tracking, tracing, and authenticating pharmaceutical products, and it is recommending widespread use of RFID at the item level by 2007.

HF more effective?

Despite industry momentum for RFID, there are still many misconceptions and issues to be resolved, including the choice of frequency. Although much of the focus has been on passive tags in the UHF bandwidth, the paper also provides an in-depth perspective on HF technology, discussing the technical and deployment characteristics that make it the most effective path with the lowest risk for item-level identification and pedigree tracking.

“RFID has the opportunity to transform the pharmaceutical supply chain," said Lisa Clowers, vice president, supply chain processes and technologies, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA). "We continue to support collaboration with all members of the healthcare distribution supply chain to explore the appropriate RFID frequencies to drive industry adoption.”

You can directly download a copy of Item-Level Visibility in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: A Comparison of HF and UHF RFID Technologies, or visit any of the authors' Web sites at,, or

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