Date posted:09/08/2018

The healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors face a lot of challenges in their manufacturing, operations and supply chain management processes. The Government should impose it on the health related companies involved in the supply chain to implement track and trace systems to improve the security of prescription drugs to patients. Counterfeit drugs are a major problem. Implementing electronic track and trace for prescription drugs with the GS1 standards will reduce the counterfeit products over a period of time. GS1 Unique identification keys helps us to identify who manufactured the product, which wholesaler has sold the product, to which retailers or hospitals, and to which patient it has been prescribed. The track and trace implementation provides the ability to track and trace the lifecycle of the drugs in the system up to the last mile. With the backing of NAFDAC and the Ministry of Health, the GS1 standards will ensure safe manufacturing and distribution of prescription drugs. It will also help to prevent the prescription drug from being misbranded, sold after expiration date, counterfeited, diverted, or erroneously administered stolen and/or contaminated. With track and trace, scanning technology can be leveraged to deliver this detailed information, and to prove chain of custody. Scans can be performed at multiple points as the shipment travels from point A to point B, including scan date, time and location. Tracking packages ensures that pharmaceutical products and patients alike are kept safe and managed correctly.

How does a track and trace system improve supply chain security?

A track and trace system improves supply chain security by:

  • Knowing the life cycle of the prescription drug, from where it is manufactured, who is repackaging it, who is distributing, when it is prescribed and when it is sold
  • Meeting accurate regulatory and compliance requirement questions such as “What, Where, When and Who”
  • Locating prescription drug batches and precisely where they are distributed
  • Enabling the option to recall a particular batch or entire batches which are reported as having a product/batch failure or having not met standards
  • Identify if the prescribed drug is authentic, standardized quality, and if it has come through the right channels.

The large number of players in the supply chain and the lack of an efficient (mutual) communication are considered the main barriers to implementing these standards for improving the supply chain in these sectors. However, every player in the chain still has enough reasons to focus on this topic.