We’ve covered this topic earlier but today’s news is that pilot organizers and participants have published their findings, recommendations and conclusions in the project’s Evaluation Report. The news release about this is here. A link to the complete recommendations document is here. The bottom line is: The project team found that full supply chain traceability systems within an open, cross-border supply chain is feasible in the European Pharmaceutical sector.
We knew that but here’s why you may want to spend some time reading the report: The report provides an insight into the projects findings and includes manufacturer, distributor, transporter, wholesaler and pharmacy perspectives of the business case for pharma traceability. It also lists implementation recommendations for the European pharmaceutical sector and suggests future standards development work for GS1 and EPCglobal.
The ‘future standards development work’ phrase made me curious so I took a look at the report. They cover some interesting packaging problems: As we have already reported, we had difficulties – in some instances significant difficulties – locating appropriate physical space for the GS1 Data Matrix code on the patient pack… When printing GS1 Data Matrix codes pack handling is critical. When GS1 Data Matrix codes are printed it is essential that the pack is presented to the printing device in a consistent and controlled manner. Too much „wobble‟ or vibration on the conveyor or handling system results in unreadable codes.
But for my money here’s the most important thing the report says (and which I think clearly points to where all this is headed):
As we have fully covered here and in other project deliverables, our product traceability extended only from the point of manufacture to goods-in at the hospital pharmacy. We fully recognise, however, that further significant benefits are to be had – not least of all patient safety – by extending the traceability trail inside the hospital to the patient‟s bedside and the point of medicine administration. By association of the medicine to the patient‟s electronic patient record, the “5Rs” can be positively assured, saving peoples‟ lives as a result. These cannot be valued. Costs of getting something wrong can be radically reduced… We would strongly recommend therefore that healthcare authorities and regulators undertake further pilots to demonstrate this potential. The fundamental building block of such capability is the positive identification of medicines at the manufacturing point as demonstrated by this Pilot – this now needs to be extended to the ultimate stage where significant benefits to patient safety can be realised.