Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where vs. What

By Charles R. Earl M.A., ABD
CEO, Communication Connections

During my misspent youth, I enjoyed a comic strip called “Spy versus Spy.” Well, this column has nothing to do with that classic confrontation between good and evil. This blog is dedicated to a common-sense comparison of two primary drug safety technologies. The Where versus the What. I have been tangentially involved with the pharmaceutical industry for nearly a quarter century and vividly remember the valiant efforts to get manufacturers to accept RFID as a viable method for enhancing supply-chain safety. Many have embraced the concept, and there is no doubt that providers and patients have reaped huge benefits as a result of the industry’s efforts to enhance safety and reliability.

RFID is a valuable asset in the trend toward better, safer and more effective products for pharmaceutical consumers. The buggy was a vital component of our ancestors’ lives. It allowed for easier movement of goods and families than was available by horseback or walking. In fact, a carriage ride through Central Park is a pleasant (and perhaps romantic) diversion from the hustle-bustle routine of our daily lives. But when it’s time for serious endeavors, we rely on the automobile or the truck. The buggy still works and has some intrinsic value, but when the rubber meets the road, the automobile is critical.

The Where is the primary focus of RFID. Where has the product been (Remember when Mother used to say, “Don’t put that in your mouth. You don’t know where it’s been?”). So, now we know where it’s been, but are we confident that we know what it is? Even when we are absolutely, unequivocally, slam-dunk certain where it’s been, are we willing to put it in our mouths? Do we know what it is?

“Where- versus- What” does not necessarily require that we drown in a pool of angst. Both are important . Knowing the Where is important for underscoring confidence and aiding law enforcement. Knowing the What is vital. People’s and pets’ lives are at stake. RFID is invaluable for integrity in the supply chain. EDXRD is critical for confirming that the product requested is the product received.

Now, let’s change the formula suggested by the title of this column. Where is good. What is good. Where+What versus the bad spy.

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