San Diego Business Journal

IntelliGuard, a company that leverages radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to manage pharmaceutical inventory and critical care supplies, aims to better automate the pharmaceutical industry.

Founded in 2006, IntelliGuard works by placing RFID tags on medicine bottles, giving pharmacists and hospitals a new way to manage their stock.

A small company with about 45 employees, states business is thriving despite the coronavirus slowdown. CEO Gordon Krass said the company has garnered a “good-sized” install base, with clients growing on a regular basis.

Seeing Uptick in Demand

“IntelliGuard is a thriving business,” said Krass. “Although COVID-19 slowed down the process temporarily, it has exposed the need for automation in the medication supply chain. We’re seeing an uptick in demand. The challenge is getting our pharmacy techs to be allowed into the hospital to do the implementation.”

Annual revenue numbers were not disclosed, though Krass said the company sells to hospitals all over the U.S. and Canada.

More than 230 acute care hospitals in the United States use the Intelliguard system, to date. Recognizable customers include Rady Children’s Hospital, Sharp Memorial Hospital, Emanate Health, and the University of Chicago.

Product Line

At a hospital pharmacy, taking inventory covers more than the presence of a needed mix of medicine. Pharmacists, technicians and suppliers must also be aware of expiration dates and product lot numbers  —  and possible recalls.

IntelliGuard products include RFID-enabled temperature-controlled cabinets (similar to small refrigerators) as well as what’s known as a kit and tray processing system.

This system not only flags medication shortages, but excesses, specifically in situations where hospital management might purchase too much medication.

As a result, healthcare management now has a better idea of a hospital’s inventory, help with patient safety and cost-control efforts.

Through its cloud-based software and analytics platform, users can access their drug supply chain data from anywhere and on any device.

In August, Pharmaceutical giant Fresenius Kabi partnered with IntelliGuard to launch its full portfolio of RFID labeled medications.

Using IntelliGuard’s technology, the partnership will tag medications in vials and syringes for direct visibility and control at each touchpoint of the product journey, from manufacturing down to patient administration.

“It’s a real testament to our efforts and what we’re doing. They are a great partner and proves this small company in San Diego can influence a global pharmaceutical company. It’s quite remarkable and we’re very proud of it,” said Krass.

A first for the pharmaceutical industry, the RFID-tagged products will be available in September.

New Leadership

In 2017, former CEO IntelliGaurd Shariq Hussain stepped down from the role and Krass was selected as his successor. Krass formerly served as president and chief client officer of another Carlsbad-based company, called NobelBiz, a telecommunications and software firm.

The Howard family, onetime owner of Howard Publications which formerly published North County newspapers and current owner of Michigan-based Howard Energy Co. Inc., owns IntelliGuard.

The pharmacy inventory business spun off from another Howard business, Carlsbad-based Safety Syringes. In 2012 Howard sold the syringe business to publicly traded Becton, Dickinson and Co. but kept the RFID business.

The company assembles its product in Carlsbad. Technology partners include Seattle-based Impinj Inc. RFID device and software manufacturer as well as eAgile Inc. which makes its smart label. The business holds more than 24 U.S. patents.

Looking ahead, Krass said the company is already drawing attention from some of the big companies and is setting the bar to expand its Internet-of-Things (IoT) automation products into as many hospitals as possible.

“We want to spread that through as many hospitals as possible but it’s really bringing IoT automation into an area of the hospital that is 20 to 30 years behind,” said Krass. “As the company grows, investors are happy and we plan to continue to thrive within this industry with a lot of players in the medication space.”