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Beefing Up Your Barcodes: 3 Things Medical Manufacturers Must Know About New GS1 Standards

Consumers, trading partners, and regulators want more streamlined methods to track product attributes and sources. The non-profit center for barcode standards, GS1, is responding to those desires by unveiling a major upgrade to the Global Data Synchronization Network in May 2016. To comply with new rules and standards, your medical supply business must begin preparing now.

Barcodes and other labels will contain more information.

To sell medical supplies in many markets, you will need to upgrade your labeling systems. Each product ID must show standardized attributes such as weight, ingredients, allergens, and country of origin. There will be universal codes aligned with FDA UDI rules to make attributes transparent on a global scale.

For potential trading partners, the information revealed can be as mundane as weights and measures or as promotional as marketing copy. There will be certain key product features which must be described with the option of adding images and other info to further engage those people who do a search for your products.

You must form a team to research the changes you'll need to make to comply with the new standards. How must you alter the way you produce, qualify, and describe your products? Do your products meet the standards set out by the new rules?

A certified data pool will help you plan your strategy.

The only way the new program will ever work is through shared databases, which fortunately have already been set up for new users to access. You join the group by signing up to a certified data pool, where you will find educational tools, help with planning, and the ability to test your new systems.

A list of certified date pools is located here. These groups are certified and registered by GS1, so they must comply with all standards and rules about data sharing. In addition, they are connected to the universal registry, and when you join, you'll be connected as well. You can try out new barcodes safely, a few at a time, before you launch your entire new ID system.

Be aware that the new standards open up cyber-security risks.

While the GS1 overhaul is designed to help fight counterfeiting of products like pharmaceuticals and medical devices, it may actually aid criminals in selling inferior goods under your name. Having so much proprietary information contained in vast databases is risky until there are adequate ways to scan for bogus codes. Many places won't have accurate infrastructure in place to access the new codes, meaning counterfeit items may be more easy to move if scammers can hack into databases and mimic authentic IDs.

As you formulate your plan to upgrade your labeling system, have several layers of protection to secure the reputation of your product and the security of your data. Your data pool has information on extra precautions you can take when setting up your medical supply databases and barcode systems.

For more information, contact ADAZON Label & Barcode Solutions or a similar company.