The BRIDGE (Building Radio Frequency IDentification for the Global Environment) project has successfully concluded its three year initiative to research, develop and demonstrate the benefits of RFID.

The €7.5m project involved implementing and trialling a full drug product tracking system using the EPC global network for supply-chain data collection and GS1 DataMatrix symbology.

The DataMatrix symbology allowed every medicine pack to be tracked using the unique serial number associated with it.

The teams involved were then able to fully trace a single item from the package line throughout the distribution supply chain to the precise delivery point at the hospital pharmacy.

The Pharma Traceability pilot also fitted some pallets with GPS tracking so that they could be traced across national borders and shipping routes.

The findings and structure used in the pilot are now being used by European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EPFIA) as part of its European vision, as reported in E-Health Europe last week.

They are also being considered by California and Food and Drugs Administration in the US and are hoped to become the first globally accepted data structure used in the pharmaceutical industry at item level.

The project is the largest of its kind and has been supported by the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development and was coordinated by global standards body GS1.

It involved a consortium of 31 partners, including five GS1 organisations, five universities, 11 solution providers and eight user companies.

Gerald Santucci, head of unit for RFID at the European Commission, said: “Thanks to its groundbreaking work in moving technology from a lab network, out of the analogue age, to a mass market and into the digital world, BRIDGE has made a positive contribution to industry and society, primarily in Europe but also in a global perspective."

David Lyon, EPCglobal business manager, GS1 UK, added: “The BRIDGE project has moved a number of ‘RFID must haves of the future’ off the academic paper and onto the work bench.”