GS1 UK has released positive preliminary results from a track and trace pilot study, which used bar codes and EPC/RFID tags to follow drugs from manufacturing plants to a hospital.
The study, which was part funded by the European Union, used bar codes, electronic product codes (EPCs) and radio frequency identification (RFID) to follow products from plants in Ireland and the Netherlands to London.
Independent supply chain standards body GS1 UK helped conduct the study, in conjunction with others including Actavis, Sandoz and Domino Printing Sciences.
The tracking aspect of the study is now complete, although it will officially conclude in June, and GS1 UK believes enough data has been gathered to demonstrate the viability of track and trace.
Gary Lynch, CEO of GS1 UK, said: “The success of the pilot demonstrates that the technology required to implement a full international supply chain traceability system using GS1 standards is available today.
“The widespread adoption of standardised traceability systems within the healthcare sector will have an incredibly positive impact on improving patient safety, reducing the scourge of counterfeit drugs and improving efficiency within the healthcare sector.”
In the study data carriers were used to ensure all levels of packaging could be traced and that the progress of transportation lorries could be monitored.
A four string data set was used, which detailed the product code, serial number, expiry date and batch number. This was used in conjunction with an EPC information system to take traceability information as products went in and out of each step in the supply chain.
The supply chains studied included three pharmaceutical companies, two transport and logistics firms, a contract packager, a wholesaler, a distributor and a hospital. A further five companies and organisations provided related services.