Track-and-trace systems are sprouting in Turkey, Brazil

June 2, 2011
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2011,

New implementations by Systech and others continue outside the US

While e-pedigree and track-and-trace—technologies to enable pharma products to be tracked on an item-level basis—remain a now-and-then activity for US pharma producers, new systems are being implemented outside the US. Vendors both inside and outside the US are gaining experience in these implementations; it could be that the process will thereby happen faster as the California e-pedigree rules are scheduled to become effective starting in 2015.

Most recently, Systech International (Cranbury, NJ) and its strategic partner Videojet () announced that they had been chosen by “one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers” to implement serialization on “each of its packaging lines in Brazil.” The client is not identified, but it is known that Systech has had an ongoing relationship with AstraZeneca, to roll out serialization on all of AZ’s manufacturing plants worldwide.

The Brazilian implementation will deploy Systech’s Serialized Product Tracking (SPT) software, while Videojet provides marking (barcoding) systems, presumably to match a barcode on cases or pallets with an item-level code supplied by the Brazilian government that would be applied to individual packages. Aggregating the “parent-child” relationship between a case and the items in the case is a critical performance component of commercial-scale tracking systems. Systech’s technology also provides for verification of applied codes, and rolls up the results to be reported to an SAP Aii data-collection system. Videojet will handle deployment and training for the implementation in Brazil.

Meanwhile, Turkey has had a national serialization program that has been maturing since 2009. One US IT vendor, ROC IT Solutions (Fairport, NY) has announced that its implementation at an unnamed manufacturer’s distribution center there has already been upgraded to a second-generation system, following the local company’s parent’s decision to upgrade as well. ROC’s implementation does not perform the original coding of pharma packages, but allows the DC to accept both serialized and non-serialized product, aggregate or de-aggregate shipments, and track the product through its distribution steps. The implementation here also reports data out to an SAP Aii master database, and thence to the Turkish Ministry of Health. ROC’s system is based on “intelligent edge data capture” which in turn is based on “aspect oriented programming” originally developed at the Xerox PARC center. (Many of the ROC management formerly worked at Blue Vector Systems, a now-defunct company that was promoting its edge technology.) Aspect-oriented programming enables nodes in a network (such as data capture devices or scanners) to be intelligent, continuously updatable computing platforms. ROC uses Motorola Enterprise Mobility barcode readers and data-capture devices.

Another manufacturer and distributor in Turkey, Nobelfarma (Istanbul), has told Pharmaceutical Commerce that it is ahead of the government’s schedule for implementing item-level tracking, having successfully implemented a system that writes barcodes on packaging lines at speeds of up to 200 boxes/minute, and managing the parent-child aggregation process. Turkey is still getting up to speed on collecting serial data from manufacturers and distributors, but over 23,000 pharmacies are now integrated into the authentication system, according to Ahmet Murat Mendi, CIO at Nobelfarma. Mendi says that Nobelfarma’s implementation uses visual inspection technology from Antares Vision srl (Brescia, Italy), and Nobelfarma built its own data-collection system.