IoT Security Blog

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A Different Kind of Pharmaceutical Tracking

Contributed by Joanne C. Kelleher

There has been a lot of discussion about using RFID tags to track pharmaceuticals through the supply chain. In an effort to reduce drugstore theft, a different kind of tracking device is being used. The New York Times reports that decoy pill bottles with GPS tracking devices are being put on the shelves in New York City – Police to Use Fake Pill Bottles to Track Drugstore Thieves.

The decoy pill bottles are designed to look like sealed bottles of oxycodone and even shake and weigh the same as an authentic bottle. When a theft occurs the decoy bottle is removed from its base which triggers the GPS unit in the bottle to start broadcasting. The NYPD will then monitor the signal and attempt to catch the criminal.

These decoys won’t physically stop a theft but could act as a deterrent, similar to the fact that robbers know banks put exploding dye-packs with stolen money.

The story concludes with this statement: The advent of the decoy bottles has led the New York Police Department to consider a somewhat fanciful idea: that the police may one day be able to track not just bottles, but also individual pills. Knowing the size of current tracking devices, this is a technologically fanciful idea indeed.