Tagging HIV patients

Plans to track the movements of once-free Americans continue to march forward. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are being put into everything from your passport to your pets. Plans to tag immigrants - even legal ones - are already being discussed in Washington. Now, one of the world's leading drug makers is tagging HIV patients.

GlaxoSmithKline has begun placing RFID tags on all bottles of their drug Trizivir, given to HIV-positive patients in an effort to keep AIDS from developing. Now anyone carrying the medication can be tracked.

It's bad enough that they tag razors or shampoo, all that can be learned from possession of those items is the presence of hair. But with GSK tagging retrovirals - and soon other drugs, now the government can keep tabs on a much narrower demographic.

Defenders of RFID technology say that the tags are only used for short-distance reading. But anyone using a high-gain antenna can scan the tags from a distance. They could even scan your house from those windowless vans you see outside your window.

GSK says they have to tag Trizivir because the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy said it was among the 32 drugs most susceptible to counterfeiting.

In 2004, the FDA concerned about such nefarious practices, wrote up a Compliance Policy Guide (CPG), which discouraged pharmaceutical companies from placing RFID tags on drugs:

* RFID will not be used in lieu of current labeling control systems to ensure correct labeling processes.
Unfortunately, the FDA also noted in their report "Combating Counterfeit Drugs" that "adoption and common use of RFID as the standard track and trace technology, which is feasible in 2007, would provide better protection."

Soon, the government won't only know where you are, they'll be able to learn your medical history. But as long as you fools are able to cut the line at fancy nightclubs, you'll be happy to have tracking devices implanted in you.

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