The incidence of counterfeit prescription medicines in Europe’s tardional supply chain is growing. This is why EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) has launched a pilot project that includes the testing of a coding and identification solution in Sweden. Siemens IT Solutions and Services is supplying the information and communications technology (ICT). This solution enables counterfeit products to be reliably identified at all times and monitors the progress of medicines throughout the complete supply chain. The project is being carried out in partnership with the retail pharmacy chain Apoteket AB and local wholesalers Tamro and KD.
Up to now, pharmacists were reliant on visual checks to make sure that medicines were not counterfeit before dispensing to patients. But these days will soon be over. In the EFPIA’s new coding and identification solution, pharmacists will check a unique identification code on each individual pack before it is dispensed to the patient. This 2D data matrix barcode, with a unique serial number, can be easily generated and printed on the packaging by the manufacturer. Scanners are used to read the code and pass it to a verification system that checks that the pack with that serial number has not been dispensed before. If it is already marked in the database as dispensed, the pharmacist is made aware of the possibility that the pack may be counterfeit, and numbers are found when scanning the packs, an alert is triggered. Pharmacy staff can then take the necessary precautions and immediately trigger an investigation.
In the EFPIA pilot project, Siemens IT Solutions and Services is the general contractor in cooperation with Hewlett Packard (HP) and SAP. The IT service provider is responsible for the project management and integration of the information interfaces between the pharmacies and the manufacturers. Siemens IT Solutions and Services is also responsible for operating and maintaining the IT infrastructure, including the technology and information systems, data integration, system security and system development. SAP Belgium will be in charge of the SAP object event repository (SAP OER) and the implementation services. Hewlett Packard (HP) will provide hosting services and SAP solutions testing.
The aim is to introduce a standardized coding and identification solution for the pharmaceutical sector in Europe that is compliant with existing international and European standards. If this pilot project is successful, EFPIA will present it to the EU authorities for replication in the other EU countries and so create a uniform platform for key players in the European pharmaceutical industry in the fight against counterfeit medicines.