In many industries, and in the pharmaceutical industry in particular, counterfeiting is a massive issue. At best, counterfeit products just lack in quality but in the worst cases, they can present a danger for consumers. It is therefore important to find ways to differentiate counterfeit products from original products. Most of the time, it consists in having a proof the product is authentic and therefore not counterfeit. The difficulty is to make this proof unique and impossible to reproduce. It could be a code, a serial number one could verify online or any other element which could help to authenticate the product. In other words, manufacturers have to innovate to face the pressure of a more and more capable counterfeiting.

In the pharmaceutical industry, it is the health of clients and consumer that is at stake. Authentication methods must be flawless. WuXi PharmaTech, a Chinese Research and Development company has developed invisible and edible barcodes on medicines and pills.

This technology allows to identify medicine and to fight counterfeiting. How does it work? Optical models are embed in a hair thin particle. This particle is inert, edible and can be integrated on the external layer of many products: food, pharmaceutical, electronics or even industrial products.

With the appropriate reader, it is therefore possible to trace and check where the pills or products are from thanks to invisible barcodes. It is also possible to provide important information integrated with the barcode.

As they are invisible for the human eye (and visible for the readers and terminals), these barcodes allow a unique identification and are by definition impossible to reproduce and counterfeit.

It’s with no doubt a new field and new possibilities we can foresee with such technology and it is interesting to notice that barcodes remain the go-to identification tool. Always as useful and efficient nowadays!