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News Article

Traceability: Essential for Health Logistics

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 07/09/2021 - 16:20

Traceability is becoming increasingly essential to the supply chain of many industries, healthcare chief among them. Due to its value, traceability has become an increasingly complex process that now involves multisectoral, cross border efforts.

For the healthcare sector, traceability is key to patient safety as it prevents counterfeiting and enables correct patient records and effective product recalls. Furthermore, it enables regulatory compliance and enhances business processes. Traceability’s main challenges pertain identification management and entity tracking, from serialization in the supply chain to the identification of all actors, patients, care providers, locations and processes involved, describes an article by NCBI.

To watch over these processes, the international organization GS1 develops and maintains standards for business communication. For the healthcare industry, GS1 developed a series of intentional standards that permit the creation of a traceable, trackable system that monitors every step of the way.

Traceability technology has also become increasingly critical to the pharmaceutical industry to prevent counterfeiting, explains Deyanira Chiñas, Commercial Director of T5DC. “The industry has invested significantly to stay ahead of pirates by modifying labels, dosages systems and packages, but what is increasingly more popular is the incorporation of traceability measures.” These allow companies to identify a medication at every step, from the second it leaves the manufacturing plant to the moment it reaches the final consumers, wherever they are located.

Traceability measures are more commonly implemented in medicine packages, but Gary Pond, Global Product Authentication Lead of Colorcon explained to MBN that “a product can easily be separated from its original packaging, or the packaging can be copied.”

To overcome the challenges counterfeit medications bring to healthcare services, GS21 recommends defining clear objectives and collaboration among stakeholders of the supply chain to implement regulations that include data management and privacy. GS21 also suggests the creation of a global regulation to address cross border challenges of the supply chain.

There are still technical problems to address regarding reliability, robustness and efficiency of carriers, warns NCBI. Furthermore, new requirements are necessary to meet niche processes such as serialization, but they should be a priority as traceability is a major aspect of the future of healthcare.

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Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst