GSK adding 2-D barcode to 4-in-1 flu vaccine packaging

A 2-D data matrix barcode--Courtesy of CDC

The slow shift toward use of 2-D barcodes on vaccines has gained momentum over the past year. Sanofi ($SNY) expanded its use of the technology at the start of the year, and evidence of the benefits to healthcare is growing. Now, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is adding 2-D barcodes, too.

GSK began using 2-D barcodes as part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pilot project in 2011. Having evaluated the technology in the pilot project--which Sanofi took part in too--GSK is now incorporating 2-D barcodes into the inner containers and outer boxes of the majority of its U.S. vaccines. GSK will begin by adding 2-D barcodes to its Fluarix Quadrivalent 4-in-1 influenza vaccine, which the FDA cleared for shipping on Monday. Over the next 6 months GSK will add the barcode technology to the packaging of more vaccines.

More widespread use of 2-D barcodes by GSK and Sanofi should save healthcare systems time and money. Scanning the data-rich barcodes brings up information about the vaccine, cutting the need to manually enter details. GSK is incorporating product identification, expiration date and lot number into its 2-D barcodes, allowing healthcare providers to update inventory-management systems, patient records and vaccination reports by scanning the labels. A CDC-funded study projected that the use of 2-D barcodes instead of manual data entry could result in savings of up to $340 million from 2011 to 2023.

GSK believes its customers now want vaccine manufacturers to add 2-D barcodes so they can begin realizing these savings. "There is great opportunity to reduce inaccurate data recording and to save practitioners time. I am a pediatrician myself and from an office management perspective, I know staff spend so much time handwriting or typing in info," Dr. Leonard Friedland, vice president of scientific affairs and public policy at GSK Vaccines North America, told FiercePharmaManufacturing.

- here's FiercePharma Manufacturing's article
- check out GSK's release
- read about the Fluarix Quadrivalent launch

Special Reports: Fluarix Quadrivalent - Major FDA vaccine approvals of 2012 | GlaxoSmithKline - Top 5 Vaccine Companies by Revenue - 2012