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The Food and Drug Administration and several major drug makers are expected to announce initiatives today that will put tiny radio antennas on the labels of millions of medicine bottles to combat counterfeiting and fraud.
Among the medicines that will soon be tagged are Viagra, one of the most counterfeited drugs in the world, and OxyContin, a pain-control narcotic that has become one of the most abused medicines in the United States. The tagged bottles - for now, only the large ones from which druggists get the pills to fill prescriptions - will start going to distributors this week, officials said.
Experts do not expect the technology to stop there. The adoption by the drug industry, they said in interviews, could be the leading edge of a change that will rid grocery stores of checkout lines, find lost luggage in airports, streamline warehousing and add a weapon in the battle against cargo theft.
"It's basically a bar code that barks," said one expert, Robin Koh, director of applications research at the Auto-ID Labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The technology, Mr. Koh said, could "make supply chains more efficient and more secure."