Pharmaceutical Serialization: Moving from If to How
Our consultants spend many of their days discussing the intricacies of drug traceability with our customers. We add value by bringing an external perspective gained from long experience in the industry (typically 20 years plus) as well as recent intelligence gained from meetings, project implementations, and conferences. I’ve just distilled some of this knowledge into a new report “Pharmaceutical Serialization: Moving from If to How” available from www.securingpharma.com. Read on – there’s a way you can get it for free.
Recently, the changes in EU legislation and the potential initiatives in the US have sharpened the focus on the areas of serialization, epedigree and track and trace. Making some assumptions about the most plausible dateline gives deadlines from 2015 to 2017 and beyond for full compliance, although (as with anything involving legislators) these dates may slip.
Given this three to five year timeframe, our customers have typically responded in one of two ways:
1. 2015 is just around the corner. Get unit-level coding done across all impacted lines as efficiently as possible and use the time available to make sure we select the best strategy, choose the best vendors, and do sufficient testing and validation. Think about associated issues of aggregation and data connectivity well ahead of time.
2. 2015 is likely to slip outwards and anyway we have three years minimum. Delay as much capex and opex spending as possible, in these tough financial conditions, and get the job done just-in-time. Plan for spending in 2013 not 2012.
Regular readers of this blog will know which side of the argument I’m going to favour. As my recent analysis of the tasks and dependencies involved showed, there isn’t really any spare time. Much of the most impactful and resource-consuming activity does not involve wrenches, vendors or production lines (although installation and validation of line equipment is undoubtedly challenging) but instead requires departmental collaboration and internal resources. For example, master data (such as stock-keeping unit [SKU] codes) needs to be identified, “cleaned” to remove confusion and duplication, harmonised to GS1 formats and made accessible to the serialization and coding systems that will need it. Many companies do not have this data in anything like a suitable form today.
Some of the biggest challenges, even for top ten pharma companies, occur after the unit-level coding step has been achieved. Aggregation, in particular, can be a real headache. This process – the association of unit codes with a shipper box code, then of the shippers with a pallet code – is complex and needs time and effort to solve. It may have deep implications for your warehouse management system. The need for large data strings and codes may also require more pack space than you currently have available. Do you need to switch to a slightly bigger pack format?
I will cover some of these hidden bombs of serialization in another post soon. For now, the one-line summary is: get started in 2012 if you haven’t done so already. Wherever you are in the process, contact us to arrange a call or meeting to discuss your needs – let’s get something in the diary for early 2012.
I’ll go further and give you a no-lose offer. Buy my new report. It will give you the global context, bring you up to speed on key obligations and give you some guidance on how to get started or how to move forward if you’re struggling. If you buy a departmental or corporate licence for the report and then subsequently initiate a project with Blue Sphere Health before 1 March 2012, I will deduct the cost of the report from our invoice. The departmental license is currently on special introductory offer until the end of December, so act now to secure your double saving.
Enjoy the coming holiday season and recharge your personal batteries for 2012. It’s going to be a busy year.
Tags: consultancy, European Union, pedigree, serialization, strategy, USA