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iTECH: Advanced RFID Tracks More Than Location

Another company is testing RFID for its nationwide home delivery fleet, Allaway said.

While ensuring that perishable foods are delivered fresh helps get dinner on the table, making sure medical products arrive unharmed can help save lives. At Cavalier Logistics in Chantilly, Va., company officials have equipped some of its trailers with temperature-sensing probes supplied by Hi-G-Tek Inc., a company based in Rockville, Md.

Clifford Wyllie, vice president of Cavalier’s Bio-Pharma Healthcare Services division, said the system is popular with shippers of pharmaceuticals that require precise temperature control at all times.

“It protects us,” Wyllie said.  “You can have $250 million worth of product on one truck.”

Wyllie said most refrigerated trailers are “static validated,” which means they are tested one time and validated for use for two years.

“How do you know if it stays qualified?” Wyllie asked. “The cargo world is tough and forklifts are merciless.”

Another standard practice is to use data loggers, which record temperature and other environmental conditions in a trailer but aren’t connected to real-time communications systems and so can’t be read until after a load is delivered.

An official with a trade group representing companies that distribute 80% of the pharmaceuticals and drugs in the United States said she expects additional legislation to spur adoption of electronic record-keeping systems.

“We have systems under development to determine drug pedigree,” said Elizabeth Gallenagh, vice president of government affairs for the Healthcare Distribution Management Association in Arlington, Va.

“Right now, we have a patchwork of state laws and . . . we are hoping for something at a federal level to encourage development of new systems.”

A resolution introduced in the House of Representatives last year — Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act — would require the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a system for identifying and tracking certain medications and controlled substances as they move through the supply chain.

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