What is “The Network” in the Pharma Serialization Ecosystem?

And why are standards so important?

The pharma industry is faced with the challenge of how to best manage and transmit data to meet worldwide government regulations that require imminent serialization of their products at the salable unit. Years ago, many pharma organizations became familiar with Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) when they were required to modify existing advanced shipping notice (ASN/856) connections to include key data points, such as the transaction history, statement and information (3Ts). Today, most people realize that EDI, and what many solution providers call “the network,” was developed by serialization providers to support lot-level exchange and not a complete serialized data exchange.

A few weeks ago during LogiPharma17 in Montreux, Switzerland, Verify Brand’s solution architect, Scott Pugh, talked about the importance of standards as they relate to the network during his presentation, “Innovation Through Serialization: Building a Smarter Supply Chain.” In particular, he touched on how many companies are now recognizing that their ability to leverage serialization data for additional business value is severely limited by design decisions made–or forced upon them–by their solution provider early in their implementation process. Many of these design decisions are a result of the belief that “the network” will automatically provide the necessary serialization data needed for both compliance and business benefit. However, pharma companies are becoming aware that most often “the network” leverages non-standard or proprietary messaging formats and limited protocols, which limits the extensibility and scalability of the data that can be captured.

Fortunately, GS1’s Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) universal standard messaging format exists and continues to evolve. The latest version, 1.2, was released in September 2016. As a result, pharma organizations can exchange data among trading partners seamlessly and easily.

While the pharma industry is just starting to use EPCIS to exchange serialized data for traceability and regulatory compliance, this standard has been widely and effectively used for more than a decade by a variety of industries. Global brands in the electronics, automotive, chemicals, luxury goods, and consumer packaged goods industries have been using EPCIS to thwart counterfeiters, protect their brands, increase supply chain visibility, and gain actionable business insights. In fact, Verify Brand was an early participant with EPC Global and a member of the Health and Life Sciences Software Action Group, helping to set vital standards related to drug messaging and EPCIS repositories.

Verify Brand built EPCIS messaging standards right into our platform from the outset, demonstrating that item-level serialization was practical, easily implemented and highly effective. We learned long ago that in order to quickly and easily deploy and manage a superior serialization solution, we must architect a dynamic, flexible offering to seamlessly network with all supply chains trading partners and their system connections and messaging variations. What sets Verify Brand apart is our mature, native EPCIS serialization solution, which is able to integrate with all version of EPCIS (1.0, 1.1, 1.2) as well as proprietary formats. Our serialization offering, rooted in the pharmaceutical industry, combined with our extensive experience deploying serialization solutions in several categories, give pharma organizations the most flexibility to manage and optimize their supply chains.

So if you want to check the compliance box and at the same time, improve your overall business operations by gaining insights to leverage rich data, drop us a line. We’d love to show you how our solution allows for a dynamic network, swift regulatory compliance, and ultimately, a smarter supply chain.


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