The pharmaceutical marketplace is set to undergo major changes: in the next few years, pharmaceutical serialisation will become the legally-mandated standard around the world. Serialisation, sometimes referred to as e-pedigree serialisation, refers to the practice of using packaging and electronic software solutions to comprehensively track and account for millions of units of prescription medications worldwide.
Designed to protect consumers from substandard or contaminated medication purchase and intended to facilitate widespread drug recall, pharmaceutical serialisation should be fully implemented in the next five years. The United States has set a firm deadline for 2017, and other countries’ deadlines fall within a similar time frame.
Every year, more than 500 million prescriptions for pharmaceutical medication are dispensed on both the inpatient and outpatient level. Across the country, pharmacies have been working to keep track of medications more efficiently, making use of newer tracking software. In the face of increasing overdoses via prescription medication, pharma track and trace software can also help lower rates of prescription drug abuse and fraudulent activity related to prescription medications.
Studies indicate that almost half of all American adults have taken prescription medication in the last month; pharmaceutical serialisation can help manufacturers track — and recall, if necessary — large batches of medication. Manufacturers hope to minimize fees and fines that originate from incorrect pricing, which can amount to billions every year. Having the ability to track medication more accurately should also allow for an upgrade in the quality of pharmaceutical advertising and marketing, experts predict.
Analytical and research services also report that pharmaceutical serialisation may be made easier by shifting to different types of packaging. Plastic blister packaging can be made childproof, and patients with some mobility issues are able to request “easy open” packaging as well. Older Americans remember a time when supermarkets did not use bar codes: similarly, the pharmaceutical industry is poised to realize a drastic increase in the quality of its tracking and consumer safety programs worldwide.
The movement toward global medication labeling should also work to increase the quality of medication among developing nations: having the ability to test and confirm the quality of thousands of units of medications at once should be a positive development for public health organizations. While manufacturers work to upgrade their labeling and tracking capabilities, health professionals worldwide work in tandem to reduce rates of mis-diagnosis and medical error, and computer software continues to quietly improve the world.