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D7.7: RFID, Profiling, and AmI

Case-study: Usage of RFID Technology in Educational Settings  Title:
 Scenario for social inclusion


RFID at the CVS Corporation

Martin Meints (ICPP) 

The CVS Corporation, listed at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is the – based on store count – largest pharmacy chain in the United States with 4087 stores. Since May 2002 CVS joined the Auto-ID Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and began in 2003 with the so-called project “Jump Start” (Garfinkel, Rosenberg, 2005: 201ff.). Target of this project is a full-scale trial of RFID on 10 selected drugs.  


There are a number of reasons that CVS involved in RFID. Main reasons are: 

  • Pharmaceuticals are different from other consumer products such as, e.g., razor blades:  

    • They are high value goods. 

    • They sometimes have a very long shelf time (up to three or four years before they are sold). 

    • In the United States tamper-proofness of pharmaceuticals in the logistic chain and the shops is an issue since the Tylenol scandal in 1982, where Tylenol was adulterated with cyanide and as a consequence a number of consumers died.  

  • Up to 2002 the EPC* global has not addressed the specific needs of the pharmaceutical industry including

    • Integrating the so far separate National Drug Codes (barcodes) into the EPC*; 

    • The need for privacy in the health care sector and 

    • The regulatory requirements defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 


CVS is testing RFID on a per item basis. Drug bottles are RFID tagged* and transported using standard boxes which are also tagged. There are a number of potential improvements in processes that are tested at CVS. The most important are: 

  • Improvement of drug management at the manufacturer and in the distribution centres of CVS; errors in the delivery such as wrong types or numbers of drugs can be detected easily; 

  • Improvement in drug management in the stores; the central systems know how many goods are left in the smart shelves even in cases where they are at the wrong place in the shelf (supply management); 

  • Improved handling of outdates, recalls, returns and damages; 

  • EPC* stored on RFID can be used to detect certain types of mistakes or manipulations of drugs for example in cases where already used or cloned RFID tags* are used. 


The project comes along with a number of technical innovations. A number of improvements with respect to reader* technology, such as multiple antennas for one reader*or the swivelling of boxes when they pass the reader*, were applied. But accuracy of the reading process still is a problem. Further testing for example of two-way tags that act as a proxy for tags transmitting EPCs* is needed.  

CVS does not hand out drugs tagged with RFID to consumers for privacy reasons. Tags are removed in the shop. To ease this, special tags with a perforation to remove the tag from the adhesive pad are used. 




Case-study: Usage of RFID Technology in Educational Settings  fidis-wp7-del7.7.RFID_Profiling_AMI_02.sxw  Scenario for social inclusion
Denis Royer 15 / 43