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