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Why Pharma Traceability is Critical in Healthcare Packaging

Learn about pharma traceability and the prevalent technologies used for it, such as serialization, RFID, barcoding, and blockchain.

pharma traceability
Pharma traceability tracks the movement of pharmaceutical products throughout the supply chain.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world, and for good reason. Medications are essential for human health, so it is critical to ensure that they are safe and effective. One way of ensuring that safety is through what is commonly referred to in the industry as pharma traceability: the process of tracking and tracing the movement of pharmaceutical products throughout the supply chain.

Healthcare packaging plays a critical role in pharma traceability, as it is the physical container that holds the medication and provides information about its identity, origin, and destination. Healthcare packaging can be used to track and trace medications at every stage of the supply chain, from manufacturing to distribution to dispensing. By using healthcare packaging that incorporates traceability technologies, pharmaceutical companies can also help to protect patients from counterfeit and substandard medications.

There are several different technologies that can be used to implement pharma traceability in healthcare packaging:

Traceability through serialization

One common technology is serialization, which involves assigning a unique identification number to each unit of medication. Serialized numbers can then be used to track and trace the medication throughout the supply chain. While serialization may be an option for some, it is a major requirement for others; a large proportion of prescription drugs are legally required to be serialized under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA).

RFID technology

Another technology that is transforming pharma traceability is the use of radio frequency identification (RFID). RFID tags are small, electronic devices that can be attached to healthcare packaging. These tags can be read by RFID readers, which can then be used to track and trace the medication. While more expensive than barcodes, the growing field of using RFID tags offers many advantages. For example, they can be read without a direct line of sight and can be used to track and trace medications in real time.

Barcoding solutions

Barcodes are a simple and cost-effective way to track and trace medications. They can be used to identify individual units of medication and to track their movement through the supply chain. 

Blockchain 

Blockchain is a secure and tamper-proof digital ledger that can be used to record data about pharmaceutical products. The data it collects can be used to track and trace medications throughout the supply chain and to verify their authenticity.

The many benefits of pharma traceability

Effective healthcare packaging that incorporates traceability technologies has many benefits, including: 

  • Increased safety: Traceability can help to identify and remove counterfeit and substandard medications from the supply chain. This can help to protect patients from serious health risks.
  • Improved security: Traceability can help to track and trace medications throughout the supply chain, which can help to deter theft and diversion.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Traceability can help to improve the efficiency of the pharmaceutical supply chain. This can lead to lower costs and shorter lead times. These technologies can go hand-in-hand with automated inventory management systems to bolster efficiency at busy health systems. Hospital pharmacies can benefit from usage analytics, inventory management—including drug shortage or drug expiration management—and smoother recalls.
  • Increased compliance: Traceability can help pharmaceutical companies to comply with regulations. This can help to protect their businesses from fines and penalties.

As the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve, the need for pharma traceability will only increase. Healthcare packaging that incorporates traceability technologies will become increasingly important in ensuring the safety and security of pharmaceutical products.

The future of pharma traceability is bright. As new technologies emerge, healthcare packaging will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring that patients have access to safe and effective medications.


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