COO, GS1 India
The demand for healthcare protective equipment and products like masks, gloves, PPE kits, sanitizers, test kits, etc.,
This has made many new manufacturers jump into producing protective products. As a result, we have proliferation of these products in the market with little information to enable institutional buyers, chemists/druggists, and consumers to make informed purchase decisions based on accurate, reliable and complete product information.
This is more so since many of these new PPE products in the market may not carry any certification mark, etc. This results in ambiguity in identifying hundreds of manufacturers of similar products, potentially creating confusion for buyers/ consumers in validating them.
Globally, to enable unambiguous identification of healthcare products including PPE, GS1 global standards are used extensively since past 45 years by all genuine manufacturers.
In India, GS1 India has developed a mobile app ‘Smart consumer’, which is being increasingly used by consumers to access information on thousands of retail products through scanning of barcode on these products. Through this, consumers get access to detailed product information as provided by manufacturers, which in turn, helps them make informed purchase decisions and differentiate between products.
GTIN (GS1 standard for product identification) also facilitates counterfeit detection of retailed products. It helps in detecting and eliminating proliferation of spurious and unauthorised products in supply chains, including pharma drugs, etc. This contributes to significantly enhancing patient safety and maintaining integrity and security of healthcare supply chains, in particular.
Besides the above, information on healthcare products needs to be shared and made accessible to all trading partners in the healthcare supply chain, which includes chemists, druggists, distributors, wholesalers, institutional buyers like hospitals and even consumers.
This helps in tracking and ensuring on-shelf availability of healthcare products in the supply chain without requiring any additional product labelling with proprietary codes by any supply chain partner, which impacts on-shelf availability.
Globally, pharma companies use open and technology-independent GTINs on protective products at different packaging levels that permit easy identification and monitoring of supplies during movement in healthcare supply-chains.
GS1 standards also enable compliance with global healthcare regulations including The U.S. Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA), EU Falsified Medicines Directive, and regulations in most of other countries.
Need of the hour
In line with global best practices, Indian healthcare industry too needs to rapidly adopt these global best practices and standards to enhance patient safety, upscale healthcare systems and deliver affordable healthcare while ensuring availability of genuine, unambiguous healthcare products.