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Hemophilia Trial Uses EPC, But No RFID

A European trial to track hemophilia drugs—from source to patient—is using an EPC numbering system but not RFID, for now.
By Jonathan Collins
The new system replaces a paper-based model and provides real-time data on CFCs in the supply chain. Individual vials of Advate are packed in boxes, which are put in cardboard cases and loaded on pallets for shipping. Each box, case and pallet is fitted with a label, on which is printed a unique EPC in the form of a 2D bar code. The pallet bar codes are read as the material is loaded onto refrigerated trucks operated by logistics supplier Temperature Controlled Pharmaceuticals (TCP). The pallet and case labels are then read when stored in a warehouse in Ireland. When patients pick up their prescriptions, handheld interrogators are used to read the EPC labels to ensure the correct medication is delivered to the proper recipient.

The trial is intended to determine how the unique bar codes on each box of Advate, and the additional data captured during the supply process, will automatically validate each step of the cold chain storage and delivery process. It is also designed to help ensure that the correct dosage of Advate is prescribed to the right patient, and to update that patient's history automatically and assist in ongoing diagnosis and future treatment.

The data matrix code is scanned on a box of Advate CFC.

In addition to the EPC code and GTIN number for each item, expiration dates and any other required information are also included in the 2D bar code. A group of organizations is presently studying the NCHCD project. This group includes the European Commission, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Federation of Hemophilia.

Over the next six months, the deployment is scheduled to examine the potential of patients using mobile phones equipped with bar code scanners to read each box's bar code during the process of self-administering the product at home. In addition, the patients will be issued wristbands or cards on which their existing unique ID numbers will be printed in the form of a 2D bar code, or encoded onto an embedded RFID tag. This will automatically update patient records at the hospital and prevent any manual errors in recording data. In a bid to further automate the identification and tracking process, Domino says it will also work to test RFID labels as a replacement for the 2D bar code labels used on the boxes, cases and pallets.

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