EU-funded BRIDGE Project and Pharma Traceability

The results of Pharma Traceability, a pilot of the EU-funded BRIDGE (Building radio frequency identification solutions for the global environment) project, are in. Referred to as Work Package 6 of BRIDGE, which is supported with EUR 7.5 million under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), Pharma Traceability is the first to kick-start a global supply chain-wide traceability system based on mass serialisation techniques. Its objective? To implement a track-and-trace solution bolstering patient safety in the branded and generic pharmaceutical supply chain for all types of pharmaceutical products.

In an evaluation report, the BRIDGE partners state that full supply chain traceability systems within an open, cross-border supply chain are possible in the European pharmaceutical sector.

The report also offers readers key information about the project, as well as business information on producers, distributors, transporters, wholesalers and pharmacy perspectives for pharmaceutical traceability. The partners also provide recommendations for the European pharmaceutical sector, and offer feedback on future standards development work for GS1 and EPCglobal.

GS1 is a global, not-for-profit association targeting the development and implementation of worldwide standards and solutions for better supply and demand chains; EPCglobal is a joint venture between GS1 and GS1 US. The GS1 System of Standards is the world's leading supply-chain standards system currently in use.

Based on the results, the BRIDGE partners showed that maximum interoperability is possible thanks to the use of open systems information standards along with the hybrid environment of data carriers, such as GS1 Data Matrix. The partners tracked 15 different types of drugs, in various packaging forms, throughout their supply chain journey.

By using the data set, which includes product code, serial number and expiry data, along with the EPCIS (electronic product code information services), users obtain the required traceability for electronic pedigree and also have access to recall systems that allow electronic flow of information to back office systems, with solid results for inventory and financial reconciliation systems.

"The Pharma Traceability pilot has been a great success and demonstrated that full supply chain traceability is highly feasible in the pharmaceutical environment," explained John Clark, Commercial Director of production company Athlone Laboratories, a pilot participant. "The evaluation report sets the benchmark for future projects of this type - the lessons and conclusions it describes will be invaluable to industry and the regulators alike."

John Jenkins, Managing Director of JJ Associates, said: "The publication of the evaluation report represents probably one of the most significant milestones in the project's three-year journey. We believe it is a very valuable deliverable, and one which will make a significant contribution to other industry projects implementing full supply chain traceability."

The BRIDGE consortium consists of actors from academia and industry including project leader GS1, Nestlé UK, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and solution provider AT4Wireless.

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