Buzz at HDMA: Serialization, 2D barcodes, change management

by Robert Bowden, on March 14, 2016

Booth_shot_Monday_rev_300x300.jpgLast week’s HDMA Distribution Management Conference in San Antonio provided a terrific forum for attendees to see what’s new in the healthcare supply chain and hear from the industry’s top thought leaders.  As an exhibitor at the event, I spoke with a number of pharmaceutical professionals to get their thoughts on what was being discussed at the conference as well as within their own organizations.

Some key takeaways from the event...
  • Uncertainty around serialization. The FDA’s DSCSA labeling requirement for electronic drug serialization by November 2017 is still top of mind. Many voiced concern that while EPCIS vendors are ahead of the deadline—with some ready for 2023 functionality—manufacturers just aren’t there yet. Some of this has to do with OEMs falling behind in delivering the systems to support serialization at the packaging line level. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the year.

  • Twice the 2D barcodes. The HDMA’s pending update to the wrap-around label on shipping cartons recommends two 2D barcodes—not just one—on opposite corners of  the label. For manufacturers with “local” software labeling solutions on the packaging line, this could pose a real challenge as they’ll need to manually change every label. More reason than ever for companies to consider an enterprise-wide approach to pharmaceutical labeling that’s standardized across the supply chain to accommodate template changes like this, quickly and painlessly. 

  • Change is hard (but doesn’t have to be). Another issue we heard often—and one that continues to come up across Life Sciences—is the ongoing struggle of manufacturers to keep up with changing customer and partner labels. Whether it’s the color or language on the label or the type of label itself, pharma manufacturers need a faster, smarter way to deal with constant change. And many times it’s the distributors who feel the brunt as shipments are delayed or, in some cases, sent back if pharma labeling is incorrect.

Interestingly, Loftware was the only labeling solution provider at the HDMA event.  Judging by the conversations we had with attendees, it won’t be long before more decision makers in the pharma supply chain take a closer look at enterprise labeling to help solve these challenges.

Download 2016's Top 5 Trends in Enterprise Labeling