Edible Microtags: A New Anti-Counterfeiting Technology

While many anti-counterfeiting technologies focus on protecting consumers from counterfeit drugs through unique and hard-to-duplicate packaging, there is another way to ensure the authenticity of a medication: edible microtags.

A number of companies have been working to develop this anti-counterfeiting technology after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released guidance on the matter last summer entitled “Incorporation of Physical-Chemical Identifiers (PCIDs) into Solid Oral Dosage Form Drug Products for Anti-Counterfeiting,” according to PharmTech.com.

According to the guidelines, such edible microtags, which would be placed in or on medication, can be made of silica, which is edible, and can be 2 percent of the drugs weight.

Mircrotags contain tiny voids that make a unique signature. Proponents of the technology say that there are one trillion unique signatures that can be chosen with this method, making counterfeiting very difficult.

The signature can be read with a simple spectrometer-based device and could even authenticate drugs that are still in there packaging if they are in clear blister packs.

According to the World Health Organization, 50 percent of the medications sold online are countefeit drugs.