Category Archives: GS1

Serial Number Bonding

There are some discontinuities between the needs of the industry for meeting serialization regulations around the world and certain GS1 standards, including their Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) and Core Business Vocabulary (CBV) standards.  I’ve already pointed out the issue of EPCIS expecting everyone who uses it to possess, by default, a GS1 Global Location Number (GLN) (see “GLN: The Lowly Identifier That Could Kill The Use Of EPCIS For Pharma Regulatory Compliance”).  Here is one more. Continue reading Serial Number Bonding

Product Identification And National Registration Codes

iStock_000090544423_smallerThere is a long-running tug-of-war going on between GS1 and national governments around the world over how exactly to identify medical products, whether devices or pharmaceuticals.  National governments regulate those products to maximize the health of their citizens and so they take a natural interest in how they are identified.  They want to eliminate all ambiguity between products within their market.  They need to be able to tightly grant market authorization, revoke it and oversee recalls when warranted.  To do that effectively, they need a way of clearly and concisely referencing a given product.  That same way of referencing the product should also be used for patient education and for healthcare professional prescribing.  Bad things happen when mistakes are made in the identification of healthcare products.

GS1 offers a global standard way of identifying Continue reading Product Identification And National Registration Codes

GS1 Ratifies Updated Versions of EPCIS and CBV

GS1_logoGS1 just updated their website with the newly updated versions of their Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) and Core Business Vocabulary (CBV) which were ratified by the GS1 Board on Monday.  Both carry the new version number “1.1”.  The two standards are separate but intertwined because the core business vocabulary is used within the various EPCIS events, so the two standards are likely to always be updated at the same time, as in this case.

This update marks the culmination of several years worth of hard work by the team, co-chaired by Michele Southall of GS1 US and Andrew Kennedy of FoodLogiQ, facilitated by the great Gena Morgan of GS1 US and with Ken Traub serving as the Editor for both standards documents, under the GS1 Global Standards Management Process (GSMP).


This is a significant event for pharma supply chains around the world, but particularly for Continue reading GS1 Ratifies Updated Versions of EPCIS and CBV

Should GS1 Continue Developing ePedigree Standards?

Photo by immrchris

Important Notice To Readers of This Essay On November 27, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Drug Quality and Security Act of 2013 into law. That act has many provisions, but one is to pre-empt all existing and future state serialization and pedigree laws like those that previously existed in California and Florida. Some or all of the information contained in this essay is about some aspect of one or more of those state laws and so that information is now obsolete. It is left here only for historical purposes for those wishing to understand those old laws and the industry’s response to them.For the first time since GS1 produced the Drug Pedigree Messaging Standard (DPMS) standard in 2005, GS1 has just published a call-to-action for the formation of a new standards development group to focus on a new pedigree-related standard.  The new group will be called the “Pedigree Security, Choreography and Checking Service (PSCCS) Mission Specific Work Group (MSWG)”.  According to the call-to-action:

“This group will develop standards to allow pharmaceutical supply chain parties striving to meet pedigree regulation requirements, by gathering and checking pedigree event data.  Standards will also address data confidentiality and security.  This MSWG will create

        A) standard for security framework applicable to EPCIS and,

        B) pedigree checking services.”

This group’s output will not be a self-contained pedigree standard, per se, but Continue reading Should GS1 Continue Developing ePedigree Standards?

Who owns supply chain visibility data?

Who owns supply chain visibility data? Does the manufacturer of a product retain any rights to track that product after it enters the supply chain? What if the product is a pharmaceutical and it is found to have a life-threatening defect? Should technology or standards availability play any role in answering these questions?

These kinds of questions come up occasionally in discussions of track and trace systems design when people talk about the future of “full supply chain visibility” and how easy recalls will be executed because of it. The implication is that the manufacturer of a drug will be able to perform a targeted recall because they will be able to see exactly where their product is in the supply chain.

But one could easily make the argument that it is no longer “their product” once it enters the supply chain. True, they invented, manufactured and labeled it, and in a recall situation we all have a strong desire for them to get it back quickly and efficiently, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that they don’t own it anymore. And if they don’t own the product anymore then they don’t automatically own the knowledge of where it is either.

I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me that once a product is sold the seller gives up all rights to that product. The buyer can do whatever they want to with it, within the law of course. Recalls that are necessary for reasons that might be life-threatening are special and supply chain members should do everything they can to find and return any item that is involved in a recall. But is it necessary for the manufacturer to have instant access to the location of all of the affected product?

Serialization and track and trace will allow all supply chain participants to know a lot more than they do today about the location of recalled items just using the data that they clearly own. Compared with today, an individual company will know very quickly if they have ever received, shipped or currently have in stock the recalled units. If they currently have them in stock they will be able to place an immediate hold on those items to prevent them from being shipped to a customer until they have been collected and returned. If they have previously shipped the items to a customer they will know exactly which customers were involved and which unit went where. But that’s it. The knowledge of what their customers might have done with those products once they receive them is not owned by the seller. Continue reading Who owns supply chain visibility data?

Use of GLN and GTIN for Pedigree Regulatory Compliance

I am fortunate to have so many friends and colleagues who work in end-user and solution provider companies and who are impacted by the issues I cover in my blog. After each post I often exchange emails and phone calls with some of them and we discuss/debate what I’ve written about. These are great conversations because they sometimes confirm my opinions and sometimes challenge them, but I almost always come away with a more refined understanding of the technology or regulation we discussed. That is, I learn something.

This is exactly what has been happening with my recent series on Supply Chain Master Data (SCMD). As I’ve defined it, SCMD is just like regular old Master Data (MD) except that the identifier and the full data set behind each instance of SCMD has a single owner, and all parties in the supply chain who may encounter the identifier must have a way of obtaining the full set of data from the owner so they know what the identifier means. But this assumes that only the identifier will be used in supply chain data communications in place of the full data set that the ID refers to.

GLN’s On Electronic Invoices

Let’s take GS1’s GLN (Global Location Number), for example. You can use GLN’s in two ways: as true SCMD, or in a non-SCMD way.

An example of using GLN’s as SCMD in an invoice application would result in an electronic invoice that did not have any explicit addresses in it–no customer billing address, no customer shipping address and no “remit payment to” address. Instead, it would simply include the customer’s billing GLN, the customer’s shipping GLN and the “remit payment to” GLN. Each party in this example would have already obtained the full addresses from their respective owners in some way, either through a registry (like GS1 U.S.’s GLN Registry for Healthcare), or directly from the owner, so there is no need to include that data on each invoice between these parties.

The non-SCMD use of GLN’s occurs when a company uses a GLN identifier as a way of obtaining their trading partner’s full address, and then they would put the full address on each of their invoices for that partner. This approach makes use of GLN’s to “synchronize” the address master data that each trading partner keeps locally. Continue reading Use of GLN and GTIN for Pedigree Regulatory Compliance

“The State of Healthcare Logistics”

Earlier this year The Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) and the Center for Innovation in Healthcare Logistics (CIHL) at the University of Arkansas published the results of a survey they conducted in 2008 titled “The State of Healthcare Logistics”. The survey polled 1381 healthcare supply chain professionals regarding their “perceptions of cost and quality efficiencies and improvement opportunities within their organization”. I’m always a little skeptical (alright, I’m a lot skeptical) of “perception surveys”, but since this one was focused on the specific supply chain that I’m a member of, I took some interest. This survey included a series of questions about the respondent’s perception of Data Standards, which really caught my eye.

In fact, I’ve been doing a little investigating myself into the competing standards that are related to supply chain master data. My career experience in this area has almost solely dealt with GS1 standards, but that may be because the healthcare part of my career has centered on the pharmaceutical distribution corner of the full healthcare supply chain. If it had been centered on the distribution of medical devices, I would have been much more familiar with HIBCC (Healthcare Industry Business Communications Council) supply chain data standards. I’ve been trying to figure out if the industry needs multiple competing data standards and, if not, which one is a better set: GS1 or HIBCC? And should I consider some other set of standards that I just don’t know about? Are there good reasons to continue the use of either or both sets of standards in our supply chain?

In this light, I turned my attention to the AHRMM/CIHL survey results, hoping to gain some valuable insight. I quickly got stuck on their very first survey question in the Data Standards section (on page 15 of their report):

A. Is your organization moving towards the adoption of a data standards system (such as GS1) in the next five years?

Now this is an amazingly bad survey question that wouldn’t even pass a “survey questions 101” class. It is a classic example of a leading question. One where the desired answer is provided directly in the question itself. But look at the choice of answers!

  1. Yes – GS1
  2. Yes – Other
  3. No
  4. Don’t Know

Continue reading “The State of Healthcare Logistics”

Master Data, Supply Chain Master Data and Instance Data

We need to make a clear distinction between traditional Master Data (MD), Supply Chain Master Data (SCMD), and Instance Data (IData). This will help us understand some important differences in various supply chain track and trace technologies.

Master Data

Wikipedia defines “Master Data” like this today:

“…Master Data is that persistent, non-transactional data that defines a business entity for which there is, or should be, an agreed upon view across the organization.”

This isn’t detailed enough for me. MD must include a data element that serves as an identifier. An identifier that refers to a given MD record must be unique within the organization.

Good candidates for MD are customer information, location information, product information and employee information. The characteristic these all have in common is that the data behind them rarely change. For example, I have been issued an employee number by my company. My employee number is the unique identifier for the MD that describes me to the company. My mailing address, phone number, marital status, social security number rarely change.

Most organizations make use of MD so that they can maintain the definition of these entities in a single place, and they can simply refer to these definitions through the corresponding unique identifier. The identifier provides a quick way to get to the full set of information. In many cases, the identifier can serve as a stand-in for the full set of information.

Supply Chain Master Data

Wikipedia doesn’t yet have a definition for Supply Chain Master Data. I’ve coined the term to describe something that is similar, but distinctly different than Master Data as described above. I’ll define it like this:

“Supply Chain Master Data is that persistent, non-transactional data that defines a business entity for which there is, or should be, an agreed upon view across the supply chain.” Continue reading Master Data, Supply Chain Master Data and Instance Data