Malaysia pilots barcoding to fight falsified medicines

A pilot project intended to show how 2D datamatrix codes can help track medicines through the supply chain has been carried out in Malaysia.

The pilot is important "in light of the many counterfeit pharmaceutical products currently flooding the Malaysian market and the high instances of theft while products are in transit," according to GS1 Malaysia, which was involved in the project.

The pilot saw GS1 work with the Caring Pharmacy chain and drugmaker CCM Duopharma Malaysia to demonstrate to all stakeholders the benefits of being able to provide product visibility, authentication and verification throughout the entire supply chain.

The project made use of 2D datamatrix codes - containing both static information, such as GS1 identification keys, and dynamic information such as the expiry date and batch number - to allow effective track and trace of products used for this project, from the manufacturer, to the distributor, and finally to the retailers.

It involved two products - Uphadyl Forte Expectorant and Upha Oral Aid lotion - with SD datamatrix codes affixed to individual bottles and a linear barcode use on boxes and cartons. The pilot assessed the tracking and tracing of the products from when they left the CCM Duopharma warehouse and arrived at the Caring warehouse in the first instance, with a second phase extending that supply chain visibility to include arrival of product at retail stores.

The pilot made use of GS1 Malaysia's Member Product Databank, which contains product information, as well as its Databank Mobile App, which allows users to scan a barcode to retrieve static product information from the Member Product Databank and display it in an easy to read format.

The system improved the control of inventory and stock, reduced wastage from over-stocking and expired products, and allowed any stakeholder to independently verify and authenticate products using nothing but their mobile smart device, according to GS1.

It also provided a secondary backup repository of pertinent product information, said the standards group.

"GS1 will continue to collaborate with Caring Pharmacy … to educate and encourage the adoption by the industry and to promote track and trace by using GS1 keys," it continued adding that it will also "assist Duopharma (CCM) to implement the GS1 2D Datamatrix onto their retail products."

GS1 said it is also trying to promote the use of unique item-level identifiers within the 2D codes via a serialized Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN), to allow a higher level of transparency, anti-counterfeiting and brand protection.

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