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French Biopharmaceutical Group Tracks Blood Plasma

The RFID solution improves traceability and production processes.
By Bob Violino
Aug 09, 2015

LFB is a French biopharmaceutical group that develops, manufactures and markets biological medicinal products. These medications, which are marketed throughout more than 40 countries, are used under hospital prescription to treat serious, often rare, diseases.

The company's LFB Biomédicaments division is the world's sixth largest player in the field of plasma-derived medicinal products and the largest in France. LFB's plant in Les Ulis, France, receives plasma from the French Blood Agency (Etablissement Français du Sang, or EFS) for fractionation—a process that separates the various components of plasma, thereby allowing the manufacturing of medicinal products. EFS collects some 10,000 blood donations daily and is responsible for the safety of the blood-transfusion chain.

The French Blood Agency encodes data on a tag to identify a plasma bag.
LFB was using bar codes to track plasma bags from EFS for traceability and identification. This manual process had shortcomings, says Patrick Bergeat, M.D., LFB Biomédicaments' deputy general director of operations and head of industrial activities. Different companies supplied the plasma bags, which varied in shape and size. In addition, the size of a bag's label, where it was positioned on a bag and the quality of the bar-code printing also varied. This made it difficult for technicians to manually scan the bags, which led to failures in reading the bar codes accurately.

In 2008, LFB decided it needed to improve the way in which it tracked plasma bags from EFS. LFB worked with French solution provider Biolog-id to develop an RFID system to automate the process. Following a pilot project, the companies received approval, in 2012, from the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament) to employ RFID to track blood products.

Two regional branches of EFS began using the new technology in 2013, and then two branches per quarter were added in 2014. In April 2015, LFB, EFS and Biolog-id jointly introduced the RFID traceability solution at all 14 EFS regional branches. All bags containing plasma for fractionation are RFID-tagged and tracked to LFB's plant in Les Ulis, and then through the fractionation process.

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