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Surprising Science

To Thwart Counterfeiters, Put A Tag On That Pill

TruTag Technologies’ edible, silica-based microtags contain a wealth of specific data and can be used in both pharmaceuticals and food.

What’s the Latest Development?

Honolulu-based TruTag Technologies has come up with a way to defeat a huge counterfeit food and pharmaceutical industry: Insert edible, silica-based tags “[a]bout the size of a dust particle and smaller than the width of a human hair” into the products themselves. Each tag can contain specific data, such as the expiration date and the manufacturing location, that is coded into nanoscale patterns that are readable by company-specific proprietary tools. In a press release, TruTag says its tags will, among other things, “improve tracking and logistics, assure product quality and enable the Internet of Things.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Besides preventing counterfeiting, improved authentication of pharmaceuticals and food could help companies solve quality and safety issues much more quickly. Writer Nic Halverson cites an example where tags could have helped top pharmaceutical company GSK sidestep a $750 million fine levied when two different drugs were mixed in the same packaging. For its work, TruTag has earned a 2014 Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum, and is one of 36 companies to receive the distinction.

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Read it at Discovery News


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