Project Jumpstart, discussed in this article, is an effort by major pharmaceutical manufacturers to test item-level RFID tagging of drugs as an anti-counterfeiting/theft strategy.
In considering the surveillance issues, drugs are certainly a sensitive issue; on the other hand, it would be easy to “shed” the tags, as an end consumer. My question would be more toward the claims for anti-counterfeiting. Given that the means of detecting counterfeits won’t be through detecting a counterfeit tag — tags are easily copied — but in assessing the object’s claimed pedigree, it just seems too complex to work all that well. Any number of insiders could probably compromise such schemes fairly easily, for example; until and unless RFID reading throughout supply chains becomes highly pervasive, a great many products will sport pretty sparse pedigrees as it is.
A stat from the above Information Week article: “The pharmaceutical industry estimates that between 2% and 7% of all drugs sold globally are counterfeit. Earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration issued a report recommending that drugmakers use RFID on bottles of the most commonly counterfeited drugs starting in 2006 and on bottles of most drugs by 2007.”