A world first for Irish healthcare sector

28 Feb 2006

The successful trial of the world’s first 100pc track and trace technology system has just been completed by the National Centre for Hereditary Coagulation Disorders (NCHCD) in Ireland and global supply chain standards organisation GS1. The technology enables the full tracking of a drug from the manufacturer to the patient.

“This groundbreaking track and trace pilot in the future will help to ensure safer delivery of haemophilia care in Ireland and across the world,” explained Jim Bracken, director of GS1 Ireland.

“The NCHCD project is being studied by an Expert Group, which includes the EU Commission, the FDA, the World Federation of Haemophilia and other stakeholders,” Bracken added.

The fully integrated electronic bar coding technology system enables 100pc track and tracing of drugs administered to haemophilia patients of St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

It is believed the project heralds a new era for future drug administration programmes in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors worldwide.

The successful trial of a fully traceable and secure haemophelia drug administration programme in Ireland from manufacturer to patient can now be adapted to resolve a whole range of patient safety and supply chain issues across the immediate healthcare sector and beyond.

The drug track and trace system uses GS1’s latest electronic bar coding technology to trace temperature-sensitive Clotting Factor Concentrates (CFCs), the product used to treat haemophiliacs. The integrated EPC (electronic product code) technology assigns a unique number to every single item that rolls off a manufacturing line, allowing every company in the supply chain to track products at the individual item of use level.

Following a two-year trial period, the solution has been successfully implemented and is ready to be rolled out nationally.

The use of unique serial numbering and bar coding on each vial box to enable automatic electronic data collection and processing will result in safer patient treatment and 100pc traceability and accountability of every drug and patient involved in this critical treatment process.

The pilot project linked up to the existing Track & Trace solution already implemented since August 2005. This solution was the brainchild of Dr Barry White, director of the NCHCD, whose vision was to establish a comprehensive and fully traceable drug administration programme from manufacturer through to patient.

His concerns were in response to the publication of the Lindsay Report in 2002, which reported the infection of hundreds of haemophiliacs with HIV and Hepatitis C as a result of receiving contaminated blood products.

Dr White commented: “The contamination of blood products was one of the most catastrophic medical complications of the last century and some of the infections were due to defects in the supply chain. There were considerable difficulties in identifying who had received the infected CFCs and in recalling all the contaminated products.”

By John Kennedy