RFID market in healthcare/pharma to reach $1.7bn in 201819-Jul-2012
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) continues to find only niche applications in pharmaceutical and healthcare applications, but is still growing as a market and is due to reach a worldwide value of $1.7bn by 2018, according to new market research.
The report - published by GIA and called RFID in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals - notes that RFID is already been used to monitor the administration and authenticity of drugs; track medical supplies and equipment and enhance patient security and safety via the use of tagged identification bracelets for patients.
Once touted as the solution to marking and tracking items in the supply chain - given its potential to simultaneously check multiple tags on items in shipping cases or pallets without the need for a line-of-sight reader - RFID has failed to break through in pharma and much more momentum is now behind the use of printed codes.
The primary reasons for that have been the cost of tags, questions around reliability given that pharma needs 100 per cent accuracy, and signal interference with liquid products, so RFID has tended to be used only for high-value medicines or for tertiary packaging such as cartons or pallets.
GIA's report notes however that away from serialisation or pedigree requirements, "potential returns on investment are plausible with overwhelming benefits that could incite even laggards to adopt the technology".
It suggests the RFID market in healthcare and pharmaceutical industries would be mainly driven by the demand for RTLS (Real Time Locating Systems) for its use in locating equipment, patients and staff, and in enhancing safety and efficiency of healthcare delivery.
GIA insists though that in time RFID could have a role to play in track-and-trace, saying that "tagging of drugs at item level to eliminate influx of fake drugs would also assist robust growth in demand for these systems in the years ahead".
Some pilots in pharma have made use of RFID alongside printed codes, with RFID tags used on higher-level packaging, notably the EU's BRIDGE project.
At the moment the US represents is largest regional market worldwide for RFID in healthcare, and is also expected to grow at the fastest rate out to 2018. Europe, the second largest market, is projected to record a compounded annual growth rate of 26.9 per cent over the same period.
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