PH hosts int’l meet on barcoding system

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The Philippines hosts an international meeting on the globally-recognized GS1 barcoding system today to protect consumers from fake or expired drugs and hopefully reduce deaths associated with mismedication or drug problems associated with certain flaws in the drug delivery system.

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The global meet will be attended by chief executives of GS1 organizations from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that includes Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and representatives from the GS1 global office in Brussels, Belgium.

“Having identified a range of opportunities for cooperation in the region in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, this meeting will solidify and coordinate GS1 ASEAN regional activities,” GS1 Philippines President Jose A. Albert said.

The barcoding system being pushed by GS1 aims to better protect consumers with the expected influx of imported goods in 2015 following the Asean economic integration.

The Asean integration is expected to help move goods and services quickly across the region and enable foreign companies to invest as trade barriers are reduced or eliminated.

One downside, however, is that the same system could allow the entry of fake or expired drugs into the country. The GS1 barcoding system seeks to prevent the distribution of fake products, especially medicines.

The system is recognized by the World Customs Organization, World Health Organization and the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that earlier issued a policy (FDA Circular 2014-011) mandating a barcoding system for health products.

Under this policy, medicines and health products will be assigned a Unique Global Product Identification Number. This number in the barcoding system is unique for each product and will help differentiate one product from another. This will easily identify fake products or those that could harm consumers. At the same time, the system will reduce the problem of mismedication in hospitals, especially among the elderly.

“There are many cases of mismedication leading to needless deaths around the world. With the help of this system, everything that moves can be tracked and traced. This will greatly help hospitals check on the drugs they get before giving these to patients,” Albert said.

The international meeting is expected to attract representatives from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Association of Supermarkets Inc., Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization Inc., Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., Retailers Council of the Philippines and other groups.

GS1 is an international non-profit association present in more than 100 countries. Through it technical expertise, it provides training and support to companies and organizations in the production of barcodes.

The company also supports the use of radio frequency identification (RFID), a system of identifying objects with tags through wireless transmission of data. RFID enables the tracking of products at specific locations around the world.

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