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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
A UK campaign to prevent medical mistakes through prescription errors has received a major boost from across the Atlantic. The US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) announcement to introduce bar codes on prescription drugs in its drive to improve patient safety has been welcomed by e.centre, the UK's foremost authority on global supply chain management and electronic business standards. e.centre, a not-for-profit organisation, is hoping the FDA ruling to adopt the EAN.UCC System as its single global standard for identifying pharmaceuticals in the USA will support its campaign for standardised bar coding throughout the NHS. Healthcare organisations in the UK currently use a wide range of systems to identify their products, an approach e.centre claims puts patients at risk and leads to increased supply chain costs. Studies have shown that improved information systems such as bar coding result in a 70 per cent reduction in medication error rates. The across the board regulation applying to pharmaceuticals in the USA will require prescription and over the counter drugs to bear EAN.UCC codes, including the unique identifying information about the drug in a linear bar code as part of the drug label. e.centre believes that it is this certainty of identification and the ability to track and trace healthcare products using a unified global standard, from the manufacturer right through the supply chain to the patient, which will lead to fewer adverse events and provide substantial cost and time savings throughout the NHS.