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Combating COVID-19 with global standards

S Swaminathan, COO, GS1 India outlines why adoption of global standards within supply chains of drugs and PPE is critical to ensure their availability to the right patient, at the right place and right time. 

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Across the globe, the medical fraternity is tirelessly working to defeat the deadly coronavirus by ensuring adequate availability of necessary protective gear, including hand sanitisers, masks, testing kits, PPE suits, and ventilators, etc., besides development of medicines and vaccines.

Adoption of global standards within supply chains of drugs and PPE is critical to ensure their availability to the right patient, at the right place and right time.  This is key to ensuring patient safety.

Global standards enable drug/PPE/device manufacturers and hospitals to achieve this through unambiguous and unique identification, and the ability to track items in the supply chains.

Global supply chain organisation – GS1 works closely with the global healthcare community bringing together all stakeholders, namely, pharmaceutical and medical devices manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, group purchasing organisations, hospitals, pharmacies, logistics providers, governmental and regulatory bodies and associations. Standards are developed by collaboration with all stakeholders to achieve patient safety and improved efficiency. The use of GS1 standards in healthcare enhances patient safety through accurate identification and authentication of medicines, PPEs, and medical devices, their recalls and point-of-care scanning

Across the globe, GS1 standards are used for:

  • Prevention of medication errors: ensuring patient safety through the administration of right medicines to the right person, in the right dosage at the right time.
  • Product authentication: enabling authentication of individual packages, cases or pallets of medical supplies.
  • Tracking medical devices and products: enabling tracking and tracing of medical equipment, PPEs, medicines, devices, etc., by using The Global Traceability Standard for Healthcare (GTSH) as a foundational framework. The framework describes the traceability process and defines minimum requirements for all stakeholders, independent of technologies, organisation size or operational sophistication.
  • Freeing time for healthcare professionals: allowing healthcare professionals to spend more time caring for patients by reducing time spent on paperwork and other manual processes like data processing, ordering and counting.

As per studies, adoption of global standards on medical in domestic supplies can considerably reduce the chances of counterfeiting and bring operational efficiency.

Furthermore, GS1 standards enable compliance with global healthcare regulations including The US Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA), EU Falsified Medicines Directive, EU UDI, and several other regulations across the world.

In line with global regulation, the Indian healthcare industry also needs to align its regulatory requirements with its global counterparts to ensure patient safety.

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