Pfizer to implement product bar coding

April 1, 2003
Pharmaceutical Representative

Pfizer Inc. is planning to utilize new bar code technology on its hospital unit dose products.

New York-based Pfizer Inc. is planning to utilize new bar code technology on its hospital unit dose products in an effort to help reduce dispensing errors at hospitals and pharmacies nationwide.

The new bar code system will allow each Pfizer unit dose of product to be identified by its national drug code, expiration date and lot number in both machine and human readable format. The bar codes will be applied to product containers at the time of packaging by Pfizer and are readable with conventionally available bar code readers.

"The application of this new technology to all unit dose packages will ensure that the medicines administered to a patient are exactly what was intended by the patient's doctor, pharmacist and nurse," said Henri R. Manasse Jr., executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Bethesda, MD-based American Society of Health System Pharmacists.

Pfizer said it had recently begun printing these bar codes on hospital unit dose packages, which contain individual drug doses, at one manufacturing site, and planned to introduce production at other sites shortly. The company hopes to be imprinting bar codes on all hospital unit dose packages by the end of 2003.

Investing in technology

Pfizer's bar code technology is compatible with current hospital hardware and will allow nurses and pharmacists to use existing hand-held scanners to read product packaging. These same scanners can be used to read a patient's identification bracelet when medications are administered in the hospital to ensure the prescribed medicine reaches the appropriate patient.

"We hope our investment in this technology will help establish a bar code standard for the healthcare industry," said Byron Bond, director/team leader of trade operations and customer service for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group. "Through widespread availability, we hope to make it easier for hospitals and pharmacies to invest in the scanner technology necessary to maximize the benefits of bar-coded pharmaceutical products." PR