GSK rolls out 2D data-matrix system

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is outfitting 65 packaging lines at 17 manufacturing sites across 12 countries with new coding equipment, in preparation for the January 1, 2011, start of France's CIP13 coding requirements. The mandate requires that drug products carry a 2D data-matrix mark incorporating the 13-digit CIP13 code, batch number and expiration date.

Packaging lines in France and Italy are currently printing the codes. GSK expects the rollout to be complete by October. The effort encompasses nearly a quarter of the big pharma's packaging lines worldwide.

The CIP13 code is batch-specific and not a randomized serialization scheme, reports SecuringPharma. So GSK designed a system to encompass pack-level traceability, which is likely to be mandated in the future. The current system has four variants, include one for tamper-evident label and another for an offline coding system intended for small quantity production runs.

The coding equipment uses a thermal inkjet printing system that can accommodate line speeds to 400 packs per minute. Thermal inkjet technology beat out laser coding based on speed and image quality.

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