Rodgers: Another difference between food and pharma is, the reason you put a serial number on a drug is to detect and expose some criminal activity. In food, there is no crime behind something that happens. You are trying to track backward and figure out the sources of a problem. That’s a big difference between the drivers of serialization in those two supply chains. It’s hard to have parallels for serialization for drugs and for foods.
Kerper: Many clients cannot see a return on investment associated with serialization and traceability. The biggest things that will happen in the food and beverage sectors are targeted recalls and the speed of recalls. Serialization identifies lots down to specific quantities. If companies have supply chain visibility, they know exactly where to find the products they are looking for. The peanut company in Georgia that tried to recall three years of product and ultimately had to close the doors because they had to recall everything they ever made, they had no visibility.
If companies have supply chain visibility, they know exactly where
to find the products they are looking for.
— Jim Kerper, Videojet’s sales manager, North America,
Systems Solution Group
I have had big pharma ask us to help identify an ROI with this because all they see is compliance for the sake of compliance, and a lot of money being spent. Companies can leverage that security to the consumer for foods and pharma. “We’ve got your back and we know what we are doing.”
Rodgers: Big pharma chains have asked consumers in focus groups, “How would you feel if you saw a serial number?” “I don’t know. Why would you put a serial number on it?” “In case there is recall, or a counterfeit.” “What?! Do I have to worry about counterfeits?!” It was fear. What would happen if you were in fear? People said, “I would probably stop taking my drugs.” Well, we don’t want that.
Izquierdo: At home, we have a frequent user card for Wegmans grocery store. A couple of times this year, we got a message from them saying “Sorry to call, but that chicken you bought has been recalled. If you have the chicken, please bring it back.” We ate the chicken already, though. We got three or four calls this past year—do you get the impression it’s safe to buy from them?
Rodgers: That’s what I was asking: Does it make you feel safe to buy from there or does it scare you?
Davis: We see that in our segment as well. Some clients will announce to consumers they are doing something about it. Others want to be more secretive. Personally, as a consumer, I would like to shop at Wegmans because they are looking out for me.
Rodgers: You can bet Wegmans did not implement this without doing research. They know the majority of people prefer to be aware of it.
Izquierdo: If you ask them “Do you want to get the call?” they would say yes. But when you get the call and you already ate the chicken, the feeling is a little different.
Rodgers: So why wouldn’t a pharmacy do the same thing? Because there are recalls happening all the time and, for some of those recalls, you might still have the drug in your cabinet. But is anyone calling?
Maybe in the future, because of digital technologies, all that will be automated.
Rodgers: Not until that lot number has a machine-readable code because your pharmacy doesn’t know now what lot number you’re getting.
Some benefits of all this information is realized by sharing it. What about the issue of security?
Kearns: Managing security impacts other industries. It’s actually developing new industries. There is a lot of opportunity. Opportunity for some may be detrimental for others.
Managing security impacts other industries. It’s actually developing new industries.
There is a lot of opportunity. Opportunity for some may be detrimental for others.
— Tim Kearns, Videojet’s national account manager
Rodgers: You talk about new companies being formed…I find it interesting that the company that these repositories are moving to is Amazon.
Amazon is the gold standard, whether it’s deserved or not, for security and data in the cloud. So the companies that are starting to do pharma serialization and help companies with data exchange have their repositories in Amazon’s cloud. Amazon has learned a lot about security on their own website to keep criminals from buying products with credit cards.
Nobers: When we say security, we think about security of transactional information but there is also a criticalness of security of a company’s market data, their consumer interactive data.
SIDEBAR: Term limits
Our roundtable conversation centered around “digital,” with a focus on serialization.
Digital is a pretty broad term. So what do we mean by it? Computers, smartphones, the Internet of Things, ecommerce, information technology (IT), social media, digital printing and whatever else you think is digital, whether it be mobile or any other kind of electronic apparatus.
We define “serialization” as a way of coding individual or a group of packages with a specific sequential number. With this number, companies can then track and trace products throughout the supply chain.