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Recent developments in authentication solutions

Manoj Kochar & Chander Shekhar Jeena
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Pharmaceutical industry bears the brunt of counterfeit menace. And this has so often resulted in loss of lives all over the world.  

Governments all over the world are active in formulating and implementing stricter laws to arrest this menace. However, Prevention is better than cure, and the pharmaceutical companies and the brand owners also need to stay proactive and embrace new technologies to empower the consumers to identify a genuine medicine.

Each brand owners needs are different and therefore the brand owners need to identify the risk and then look for the right technologies to mitigate the risk. At times a single technology may not serve the purpose, and the authentication solution provider may suggest adoption of more than one technology to counter the threat. Some such technologies are hologram labels and foils, tamper evident substrates, security inks, track and trace, Digital Mass Encryption etc.

However, we are all aware that no technology provides an eternal solution for a problem like counterfeiting and the authentication solutions industry also keeps innovating to stay ahead of the counterfeiters. Some such developments are discussed below:

Injection moulded hologram: A hologram label or foil is perhaps the most widely used solution to fight counterfeit. But the next generation of hologram images and even their transfer mechanism is now here. Nano 4 U, a Germany based company has developed high-resolution holographic and related nano-optical structures for replication directly in to plastic based injection moulded packaging for pharmaceutical and other industries.

This is the first such European collaborative R&D project focused on anti-counterfeiting for pharmaceutical products and medicines. The aim of the research collaboration is to add anti-counterfeiting and track and trace technology to the product level that goes beyond the state-of-the art packaging level security approach. It aims to develop verifiable micro-barcodes and micro-optical effects on products with no process change or added material. A key area is applying microstructures to the surface of pills, giving them a security code that can be verified using a reading device. The hologram is designed with a pattern of diffracted nano-structures of less than one micron on a mould insert, which is replicated on the plastics during moulding.

Integration of anti-counterfeiting technologies: Schreiner, another German company, has designed a new Pharma-Comb label that combines overt features such as holograms, color-shifting security inks, and guilloche patterns with more covert elements, including certain voiding effects, and LaserSecure – a sophisticated method incorporating special pigments that only become visible via a dedicated hand-held reading device.  The combination can be tailored to specific manufacturer requirements, resulting in customized authenticity protection for pharmaceuticals.  The Pharma-Comb label has another built-in security feature: detachable label parts. When detached from the substrate, the message “peel-off part has been removed” becomes visible on the bottom label. Other security features embedded in the detachable label part make authentication checks possible even after the label has been attached to a patient’s medical records.

Authentication technologies enhances value of digital technology
“The menace of product counterfeiting has become very widespread and it is important to take a proactive approach to tackle this menace head-on. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has taken the lead in this direction and has recently formulated a new standard ISO 12931 titled ‘Performance Criteria for Authentication of Material Goods’. These standards lay down the guidelines for brand owners to undertake effective protection of their brands and products.

Authentication solutions such as security hologram remains the foremost weapon in the armoury of brand owners, and it actually complements and easily integrates with other technologies like Track and Trace etc. Such integration provides the brand owners to select the right mix of the various technologies for adopting the optimal solution and keep the counterfeiters at bay.

Manoj Kochar is President and Chander Shekhar Jeena is Secretary of Hologram manufacturers Association of India (HOMAI)


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