Pharma Serialization in Five Years: What the Future Holds

What does the future hold for pharma serialization?

Pharma serialization has revolutionized the industry. Thanks to it, strides have been made to improve supply chains, achieve better organization, and combat counterfeiting. Throughout recent years, the processes and technologies used in pharma serialization have been getting more and more modernized. The efficient systems we have today are the result of painstaking work by experts and businesses alike. However, we are also coming up on an exciting time for serialization in the pharma industry, and this article will explore how this area will develop in the following few years.

We have consulted several trusted sources on pharma serialization and have compiled a comprehensive list of trends and changes we can expect to see going forward in the near future. Some of these are pretty certain to happen, while others are more speculative. Regardless, this article should provide valuable insight into the future of serialization in the pharma industry. Whether you are a business owner or pharmacist (or both), you will find the information here useful if not mandatory. At the end, we will also offer you more concrete advice and practical tools to help you navigate the future of pharma serialization.

Serialization data management will be more important than ever

In the introduction, we have mentioned some ways in which pharma serialization can be useful. Another way, which is perhaps not brought up as often as it should be, has to do with managing the data serialization provides for you. This data has to do with the movement of medication, sales rates, as well as market availability and profitability (among other things). While pharma companies nowadays do their best to use this information to their advantage, a lot of this data’s potential is wasted through inefficiently analyzing it or straight up ignoring some factors.

Serialization data has the potential to yield serious informational and transformational value provided that businesses learn how to leverage it. For this to happen, serialization has to be treated as a core business process and the driving force of innovation within a company. Higher visibility across the supply chain means better and more accurate sales forecasts and the reduction of money wasters like expired inventory. Investing in crack serialization teams that know how to analyze, interpret, and manage serialization data will be the way forward in the pharma business world.

Better systems will need to be designed to cope with data overload

Pharma serialization brings with it certain problems as well as blessings. One of the bigger issues regarding serialization is the massive amount of data it brings into the picture. Businesses across the globe struggle to cope with managing it. In the last section of this article, we talked about the potential of harnessing some of this data for growth, but smaller pharma companies need to develop better ways to manage it in order to simply stay afloat.

A recent TraceLink survey (paraphrased by contactpharma.com) showed that:

59% of manufacturers said they spend way too much time and effort on manual data analysis to ensure that their serialization program is running smoothly and to avoid any issues or exceptions. When exceptions do happen, 58% of manufacturers are concerned that process exceptions caused by serialization will prevent their products from reaching patients.

Unmanaged, the issues created by serialization data overload can even exacerbate problems such as expired inventory, supply shortages, and stalled shipments. If serialization is to remain primarily a force for good and improvement in the pharma world, systems will need to be developed in the near future to ease data management.

 

Aggregation will become increasingly important

Aggregation is of serious practical importance in the pharma serialization world. Though it is not directly called out in regulations, it remains an essential part of the serialization umbrella. Aggregation is a serialization-related technique that builds and maintains the connection between a serialized item and any associated containers that are similarly serialized. Why is this useful? Well, consider serialized components that are loaded and wrapped onto a serialized pallet in a serialized case. All of the aggregated cases and eaches are “moved” by a single scan of the serialized barcode label on the pallet.

In the future, most pharma businesses that want their serialization practices to be valid and accepted will not be able to turn a blind eye to aggregation. According to firecepharma.com, it is looked at as central to the DSCSA’s “interoperable supply chain“ mandate for 2023. Although the particular specifications have not been decided, it is known that aggregated products will be at the center of the requirements in order to improve information collecting and supply chain traceability. All of this supports the move further and further towards a global pharma marketplace.

Initial systems will need to be upgraded to newer versions

A big part of systems currently used in pharma serialization is outdated. As a concrete and relatable example, many still rely on the usage of Windows 7 over newer versions of the OS. Moving forward with serialization will mean updating both hardware and software in order to cope with the growing demands of serialization in the global pharma market. Some of these systems are up to ten years old, seriously hampering the ability of some companies to serialize their products efficiently. Many pharmaceutical businesses are detecting shortcomings and looking at the prospect of switching packaging equipment, software, and cloud serialization providers due to the necessity to upgrade these systems and the likelihood that substantial changes will cost as much as a replacement.

Consolidating vendors are trying to meet these demands. To expand its cloud track-and-trace capabilities, Antares Vision Group purchased Rfxcel and Adents in addition to Systech, which is now a part of Markem-Imaje. In line with the development of track-and-trace, according to Faury, this consolidation “will help the industry have more uniform and therefore replicable global solutions, introducing a standardization that aligns with the maturation of track-and-trace. We’re seeing more and more GS1-compliant regulation, indicative of a trend toward easier implementation and supply chain simplicity.” Companies are also looking into switching from barcodes to RFID due to higher accuracy as well as efficiency.

Companies will strive to have tighter controls of their supply chains

This ties into the efficient data usage we have already discussed. One of the hallmarks of pharma serialization is that it allows companies to track their products across the supply chain fairly easily. Because of this, serialization has already afforded a greater level of control to most businesses. In the future, however, more efficient data management and information usage will mean that supply chains can be closely monitored and controlled, lessening the chance for accidents or disruptions, which is of particularly key importance in the growing globalization of the pharmaceutical marketplace.

In fact, this will start becoming more of a necessity than an optional practice as more and more pharmaceutical companies adopt it. To ensure ongoing compliance and avoid supply chain disruptions brought on by the complexity of international standards, supply chains will need to be closely monitored. These persistent difficulties will only serve to emphasize the requirement of extracting as much insight from serialized product data as is feasible. Try to think of it as using information rather than simply managing it.

Businesses will need to start seeing pharma serialization less as a means to compliance and more as a valuable tool

It can be very easy to just dismiss serialization as something a company has to do in order to comply with rules and regulations. Being thought of in this way, serialization can be easily dismissed after the product goes live.

Not only does this shift in mindset open up your eyes to the many ways in which serialization can be utilized, but it also changes the way you feel about the entire process if you see it as more than just a costly means of compliance. Only when businesses consciously align their serialized products and reporting systems with a plan for utilizing serialized data across the company will this transition begin. In summary, serialization data may support the digital transformation of your supply and value chain when properly tapped.

Flexibility and connectivity will reign supreme

In our world of cloud-based computing, one can point out many advantages and disadvantages. However, one undeniable thing is that the flexible nature of such systems as well as the easy sharing and connectivity which they allow makes it easy for information to be transferred at record speeds. This allows the globalization of pharma serialization practices to flow easier and unimpeded, but demands once again that companies switch to technology which is compatible with this new way of operating. Although some might call into question the reliability of such systems, especially when they are being (at first glance, at least) rapidly and carelessly adopted, but the benefits are clear to see in those which have embraced them.

Businesses must plan for the highest future return on investment when making decisions now. Systems that are adaptable, interoperable, and cloud-based are best positioned to continue having an impact after the changeover and after operations resume as usual. RFID can still be used to gain important advantages even though two-dimensional barcodes are the required format for product IDs. To interface with other systems and have the choice to see data as needed, a link between the data components would first need to be established.

Your guide to the future

The future is uncertain, as it always tends to be. However, we have done our best to come up with the most reasonable predictions from the research we have conducted.

After reading this post, you might feel somewhat intimidated. After all, it seems like so many things are happening in the pharmaceutical industry as it marches on into the future. At Nubinno, we swear by expert guidance as being the key to successfully navigating difficult periods. However, these times do not always have to be wars or economic crises. Periods of rapid evolution and change can also be fairly challenging to navigate, especially without some help.

For this reason, we recommend that you check out our services and see if there is anything we offer that you need specific help with. We specialize in helping pharmaceutical companies with mergers and acquisitions deals as well as serialization. Whether you need to be linked up with other businesses through our Nubinno Connect service or simply want concrete advice and help with upgrading your serialization processes or future-proofing your company, you will be able to find what you need with us.

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