100% Labeling Accuracy: Are You Wondering, Too?

Of all of your packaging responsibilities, labeling probably gives you the most pause. And rightfully so. A search of FDA’s Web site just under “Medical & Radiation Emitting Device Recalls” using the keyword “labeling” yielded 50 recalls so far this year. Many of 2010’s recalls for labeling were the result of the wrong label or product code being applied to a package, resulting in mislabeling. In one recall this summer, “products with an expiration date of August 2009 were labeled with an expiration date of May 2013. Additionally, the outer packages were labeled with an incorrect lot number,” read FDA’s site. In other cases, the wrong products were placed in packages. In another recall this summer, a “knee implant labeled as left was opened and the package actually contained a right knee implant,” read another report on FDA’s site.

Given wider-spreading discussions about item-level serialization, your concern may be growing. You will have even more product details to encode, verify, and archive. Your task will be much more than ensuring that the right product is matched up with the right label and the right package: you will be dealing in data, and in addition to being right, that data has got to be accessible throughout the supply chain.

So, for this month’s feature, “Printing Accuracy: Hitting the Mark,” we decided to explore one reader’s question: “Is there a printing machine that is able to ensure 100% in-line printing accuracy?” Freelance writer Marie Redding spoke to a number of printing technology providers to get their input, and I encourage you to read their responses. Much of their input pertains to printing quality, a different concern from ensuring right product, right label, right package. While those rights are certainly critical, printing quality will be just as critical. In order for serialization data to be accessed and acted upon, the codes themselves have to be machine readable.

Many of you are actually searching for solutions now. In a 2010 Packaging Survey conducted for PMP News earlier this year by Readex Research, the top item on respondents’ equipment shopping list was “printers” (50% of survey respondents), followed by labelers (44% of respondents). Since you are investigating options, be sure that you invest in the technology that can support print quality. (Read our feature for tips!)

Pharmaceutical distribution seems to be moving toward a global supply chain that will depend upon printed codes to support track and trace and/or electronic pedigree. Consequently, bar code quality will be of utmost importance. Your supply-chain customers will demand it.

Daphne Allen, Editor
daphne.allen@ubm.com

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