As the California deadline for ePedigree draws closer, the battle to define supply chain security standards will be getting much more intense. Two upcoming events will bring these distinctions more clearly into the open:
- November 11-13: The 2007 RFID/Track & Trace meeting, sponsored by HDMA and NACDS
- December 5: California E-Pedigree Work Group Meeting
- Who will manage the track-and-trace infrastructure?
- Who will own and control the data generated from a track-and-trace system?
- Will there be more than one repository of track-and-trace data?
Part 2 will appear on Monday. I’ll discuss where legislation could be going in the next few years.
Pedigree vs. Track-and-Trace
IBM and its supply chain partners are well represented on the RFID/Track & Trace agenda (hint #1) and IBM’s WebSphere RFID Information Center is already being used by AmerisourceBergen in Sacramento (hint #2). So, you should be paying attention to what IBM says.
Now I’ve been a wee bit critical of IBM’s annual RFID announcements but was pleasantly surprised to read a comparatively hype-free interview with John Delpizzo, head of IBM's sensors and actuators RFID division. Mr. Delpizzo seems downright reasonable in his discussion of serialization and the limits of epedigree as a solution to counterfeiting. Full interview here: IBM RFID chief on tracking counterfeit drugs.
But take note of the way he carefully distinguishes "track and trace" from "epedigree." (emphasis added)
- “ePedigree makes it more difficult to do counterfeiting. I would argue that batch and lot level pedigree doesn't help much at all; it just gives you an inventory tool. When you move down to the item level and you uniquely identify items, you have a unique identifier on the bottle. So your counterfeiter is going to have to counterfeit the unique serialization on each bottle...which is more difficult.”
- “I tend to talk more about it as track-and-trace than pedigree. Pedigree is one aspect we're trying to address. When you can track drugs that are serialized through the supply chain, you can track other problems, such as shipment verification, within the supply chain.”
As a counterpoint to IBM's worldview, check out Pedigree Now, or Track and Trace Later. Which Is the Right Plan?, an editorial by Dirk Rodgers of Supplyscape. He claims:
- “there are no standards today for track-and-trace and so any solution that claims to have those features will be proprietary software which leads to failed interoperability and wasted investment.”
- “While it is true that there are teams within EPCglobal that are in the early stages of developing requirements for a track and trace extension to today’s pedigree messaging standard, these efforts will not result in usable changes prior to the January 2009 effective date of the California Pedigree regulation.”
Hmmm, SupplyScape is not on the official RFID/Track & Trace agenda . . . (Hint #3)
On Monday, I’ll discuss the coming legislative battles over supply chain security standards.
In the meantime, I'll remain skeptical of the Motley Fool’s prediction that “demand for IBM's ePedigree system could soar.” Foolish, indeed.