IBM on Aug. 9 announced the availability of an offering that will allow pharmaceutical companies to create an electronic certificate of authenticity (known as an electronic pedigree or ePedigree) for every drug that passes through the supply chain. The offering allows all participants in the drug supply chain — manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and hospitals — secure and on-demand access to historical data on individual bottles or packages of medicine.
The ePedigree feature is a key capability of the new version of IBM's WebSphere RFID Information Center (RFIDIC), a high performance data repository that allows clients to efficiently manage and securely share information with trading partners to authenticate pharmaceuticals. The IBM offering was designed to manage and aggregate product serial numbers to enable processes in manufacturing plants, distribution centers, pharmacies, and hospitals.
IBM WebSphere RFID Information Center is already being used successfully by AmerisourceBergen, a "big three" pharmaceutical distributor, in its Sacramento pilot, and by a large global pharmaceutical manufacturer. IBM is working closely with its customers in the pharmaceutical industry to enhance the product's capabilities. ITAIDE, a global e-customs project, is also using WebSphere RFID Information Center to manage serial numbers relating to the global movement of shipping containers.
IBM's new ePedigree feature allows clients to comply with new and emerging regulations such as those that will take effect in California in 2009 using either RFID, 2D barcodes, or a combination of barcodes and RFID. The offering provides a flexible "track and trace" framework for generating ePedigrees through standards-based EPC Information Services. By establishing ePedigree via EPCIS events and queries, clients will also be able to easily access key data elements to solve other business needs such as chargeback resolution and expiration management.
For additional flexibility, customers using the new version of WebSphere RFID Information Center can set up rules for how their supply chains should work and what should happen if an exception to these rules occurs. To provide this capability, IBM has integrated the Coral8 Engine — complex event processing software from Coral8 — into its product. Coral8 is providing a free deployment license to all IBM customers using the new version of WebSphere RFID Information Center for this purpose.
The product is fully compatible with the EPCglobal Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard, and also integrates with customer master data systems to provide additional business context using product, location and supplier information.
"Our ePedigree system will help manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies meet the regulatory requirements that will take effect in California on January 1, 2009," said Christian C. Clauss, director, Sensor Information Management, IBM Software Group. "This system has the potential to improve the integrity of the entire drug supply chain by allowing users to quickly authenticate pharmaceutical products through direct data exchange with trading partners."
Also new to WebSphere RFID Information Center version 1.1 are enhanced reporting tools and alerting capabilities. The reporting feature allows clients to access and analyze data using browser-based reports for faster decision making. The report data can be used for numerous business needs such as reverse logistics and inventory management. Through the new alerting feature, businesses can rapidly detect supply chain exceptions, such as a late shipment, and generate alerts to the appropriate personnel.