Written by IEEE | December 3, 2015 | Updated: April 3, 2017
The pharma industry is highly regulated, and like many other industries outside of medicine, it’s fraught with issues of security. Together with researchers from the University of Bradford, a technology company focused called Sofmat came up with barcode technology that adds another layer of protection to pharmaceuticals.
Instead of barcodes that are placed solely on packaging, Sofmat, which focuses on anti-fraud, created a solution that can be embedded into the actual pill structure with microscopic indentations. The markings are created with tiny pins of all different sizes, and each pin etches in a letter or number.
While the code adds a layer of security, it’s not meant to be visible, and as such, the code so microscopic that it’s not tangible. To verify origin and authenticity, lasers are able to scan the product for its information.
According to Popular Science, the issue of phony pharmaceuticals is especially prevalent in developing countries, where the World Health Organization estimates that over 25 percent of medications are either substandard, or counterfeit.
Sofmat’s innovations extend beyond the pill itself — the same 3D barcode technology can be used on bulk packaging.