Security

Get excited about RFID and Viagra

If you are a subscriber of the IT News Digest newsletter, and you also frequent News.com, you may wonder what method of madness I use for selecting stories to include in the newsletter. After all, there are numerous stories on News.com that don't make it into the newsletter. I truly try to put myself into your shoes, and the other TechRepublic members who subscribe to the IT News Digest newsletter. Almost all major headlines get included, as well as big mergers and acquisitions, trade shows, product releases, security alerts, etc. However, there are always a few I stay far away from, such as non-IT related stories and content that some people may find inappropriate or offensive. Disturbing is ok, but inappropriate and offensive don't make my boss happy. 

Today I decided to be a little risky (or is it risqué?) and blog about one of the News.com stories that I intentionally DID NOT include in the IT News Digest newsletter: "Pfizer fights fake Viagra with RFID." Already your interest is peaked, isn't it? What exactly could radio frequency identification and libido-enhancing drugs have to do with one another?

According to the article, "Viagra may help many couples heat up the bedroom, but it has also helped fuel a huge counterfeit market. Pfizer, the maker of the world-famous love drug, is now fighting back with technology. The company began on Dec. 15 to affix electronic identification devices known as RFID tags to all U.S. shipments of Viagra in an effort detect counterfeit pills, 5 million of which were seized by authorities last year.

"Each tag contains a microchip that stores a unique serial code, known as an Electronic Product Code, and an antenna for transmitting the code wirelessly. Pharmacists and drug distributors can retrieve the codes with a special reader and verify their authenticity by checking a Pfizer database via the Web."

RFID devices have several advantages over barcodes: "They are harder and more expensive to duplicate. Reading them is also easier, because many tags can be scanned simultaneously without much handling." However, they also have drawbacks: the technology is prone to failure and it's expensive. Are you excited about the possibility of avoiding counterfeit drugs with RFID? If you take Viagra, you should be.

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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