Printing Digital Labels - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Printing Digital Labels
Going digital can produce high-quality, full-color labels at potentially lower cost.


Pharmaceutical Technology


As the January 1, 2009 deadline approaches for compliance with California's pedigree law, which requires drugs shipped to distributors to carry a unique identifier at the item level to support an electronic track-and-trace record keeping system, some wholesalers and drugmakers view RFID tagging at the item and case level as the ideal data carrier because information can be captured from the tags without the reader being in the line of sight of the packages. For drugmakers that don't have the RFID infrastructure in place, particularly for tagging at the item level, digitally printed two-dimensional (2D) barcodes can provide the unique identifier.

Options include printing a serialized 2D barcode or electronic product code number on the item label or on a medallion label that is applied separately to the item. Information about the item codes is then captured and written to an RFID case tag to link parent/child information. If RFID case tagging is not available, the item-level information can be captured and incorporated into a 2D code that is digitally printed on the case label so information about the contents of the case travels with it.

Several companies are working together to provide the hardware and software necessary for a pedigree process based on 2D barcodes.

Hallie Forcinio is Pharmaceutical Technology's Packaging Forum editor, 4708 Morningside Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109, tel. 216.351.5824, fax 216.351.5684,
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