Siemens IT Solutions and Services and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) have launched a medicine coding pilot project to help to combat counterfeit medicines.

The pilot, which is being carried out in Sweden, aims to introduce standardised coding and identification solutions throughout the pharmaceutical sector in Europe.

The project will test the EPFIA’s new coding and identification technology that identifies counterfeit products and monitors the progress of medicines throughout the supply chain.

It will use a small data matrix (similar to a barcode) to individually number each pack of medicine to verify whether it has been previously dispensed. A confirmation will immediately alert pharmacists if there is a risk that the pack may be counterfeit.

The system is being piloted in 25 retail pharmacies throughout Stockholm and is intended to verify more than 100,000 products during the test phase.

Brian Ager, director general of the EFPIA, said: “This initiative represents an important contribution to meeting the challenge posed by counterfeit medicines entering the legitimate supply chain.

"By investing in this pilot project, the research-based industry has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to patient safety."

Ager said that the solution is part of EFPIA’s response to the European Commission’s proposal for a mass serialisation of medicinal products as part of measures to better protect EU citizens from the serious threats posed by counterfeit medicines.

“Individual product verification will not provide a complete solution to the challenge of counterfeit medicines. Nevertheless, as part of a package of measures, this type of end-to-end verification system will make a significant contribution to product security and reinforce patient confidence in the legitimate supply chain,” he added.

Siemens is responsible for the project management and integration of the information interfaced between the pharmacies and the manufacturers.

The company is also responsible for operating and maintaining the IT infrastructure, including the technology and information systems, data integration, system security and system development.

SAP Belgium, a German business software company, will be in charge of the implementation of service and Hewlett Packard will provide hosting services and SAP solutions testing.

The project is being carried out in partnership with the Swedish retail pharmacy chain Apoteket AV and local wholesalers Tamro and KD and is expected to run until the end of November.

If the project is successful the EFPIA will present it to European Union authorities to be replicated in other EU countries.

Links: Siemens IT solutions and Services

European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries