The industry for medicines, pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs is one of the biggest in the United States. Throughout 2011, pharmacies and drug stores generated a whopping $231.46 billion in sales just from these prescription medicines!
However, there are still some flaws with the industry’s present system of manufacturing, distributing and dispersing these medicines — and as a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently mandated that all pharmaceutical manufacturers begin to adapt to a uniform system of serialization.
By 2017, the FDA will require all manufacturers to have listed all products by a unique serial number or identifier; by 2023, manufacturers will need to have their complete unit level tracing implemented.
But why do we, as a country, need track and trace pharmaceutical serialization solutions so badly? Was there really anything wrong with the system we’ve been using for decades? Here are three facts that show why this system of tracking prescription drugs through the manufacturing and distribution processes is an absolute must-have:
Track and trace pharmaceutical serialization stops counterfeiting
Around the globe, counterfeit prescription drugs are a major problem. About 1% of the pharmaceutical supply in developed countries like the U.S. — and as much as 30 to 40% of the supply in developing countries — consists of counterfeit drugs. And while 1% might not seem like much of a problem, consider the fact that doctors ordered or prescribed 285.1 million prescription drugs to patients during outpatient visits only in 2010. That’s 2,851,000 people being prescribed counterfeit drugs! In other countries where product serialization has been implemented, this system has helped reduce the amount of counterfeit drugs dramatically.
Serialization allows you to keep a close eye on product
At every step in the manufacturing and distributing process, a pharmaceutical product will have its unique serial number scanned and recorded, giving it a passport-like record of where it has been. This allows manufacturers to closely track where their drugs are going, and identify when product has been lost or misplaced. Each prescription can also be identified by its batch number and shelf life.
Serialization offers fewer points of failure
In the traditional pharmaceutical distribution model, a prescription drug could change hands as many as 10 times on its journey from the manufacturer to the consumer, opening up many opportunities for mistakes to be made. With an efficient, streamlined, four-level track and trace pharmaceutical serialization system in place, manufacturers can easily reduce the number of points of failure in their distribution processes.
Why else do you think pharmaceutical serialization solutions are a step in the right direction for the pharmaceutical industry? Share your thoughts and ask any questions you may have by leaving a comment below.