Need for unique and universal identification of protective health products during the Covid crisis, Health News, ET HealthWorld


by S Swaminathan
COO, GS1 India

Demand for health protection equipment and products such as masks, gloves, PPE kits, cleansers, test kits, etc.,
has been intensified.

This has led many new manufacturers to jump into producing protective products. As a result, we have the spread of these products on the market with little information to enable institutional buyers, chemists / drug lists and consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on accurate, reliable and complete product information.

This is more so since many of these new PPE products on the market may not contain any certification mark, etc. This results in ambiguity in identifying hundreds of manufacturers of similar products, potentially creating confusion for buyers / consumers when validating them.

Global to enable unambiguous identification of health products including PPE, GS1 global standards widely used since the last 45 years by all genuine manufacturers.

In India, GS1 India has developed a mobile app ‘Smart Consumer’ which is increasingly used by consumers to access information on thousands of retail products through scanning of barcode on these products. Through this, consumers gain access to detailed product information provided by manufacturers, which in turn helps them make informed purchasing decisions and differentiate between products.

GTIN (GS1 Standard for Product Identification) also facilitates forgery of detection of products that are retails. It helps to detect and eliminate the spread of fake and unauthorized products in supply chains, including pharmaceuticals, etc. This contributes to significantly improving patient safety and maintaining integrity and safety in health supply chains, in particular.

In addition to the above, health product information needs to be shared and made available to all trading partners in the healthcare supply chain, including chemists, drug dealers, distributors, wholesalers, institutional buyers such as hospitals and even consumers.

This helps to track and ensure availability on the shelf of health products in the supply chain without requiring additional product labeling with proprietary codes from any supply chain partner, affecting shelf availability.

Global scenario
Globally, pharmaceutical companies are using open and technology-independent GTINs on protective products at various packaging levels, enabling easy identification and monitoring of in-flight supplies in healthcare supply chains.

GS1 standards also enable compliance with global health regulations, including U.S. Drug Quality and Safety Act (DQSA), EU counterfeit drug directives and regulations in most other countries.

Need for the hour
In accordance with global best practice, it is also necessary for the Indian healthcare industry to rapidly adopt these global best practices and standards to improve patient safety, upscale healthcare systems and provide affordable healthcare while ensuring the availability of genuine, unique healthcare products.


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