Pharmaceutical and medical device industries are constantly changing with developing supply chain themes and technological advancements due to which labeling must be looked upon with a new perspective. A host of latest trends have compelled Pharmaceutical and medical device industries to rethink, strategize and streamline processes, meet compliance norms and start and learn best practices. Here are some of the latest trends in Labeling.

Impact of Regulations on Labeling

Labeling regulations keep changing and it’s especially critical for those industries where labeling and identifying parts and packages play a pivotal role in consumer’s safety. In the medical device industry, companies now have to adhere to the changing norms/standards such as Unique Device Identification (UDI) and change the way products are labeled.

The pharmaceutical industry is making companies reconsider the way they do business owing to the ePedigree and the more current Drug Quality Security Act (DQSA). Companies must now get in line with standards and evolving regulations to change their supply-chain processes and adopt new labeling standards. Companies must either comply or face the consequences including hefty fines and loss of business. Some of the major regulations and standards in labeling are


In the US,most of the states have decreed pedigree requirement to protect consumers from contaminated medicine or counterfeit drugs. The law which was first initiated in the State of California seeks to track and serialize unit-level saleable packages (e.g; bottle of pills) throughout the supply chain. Bar code and RFID technologies are employed for implementing traceability.


The law intends to strive for improvements in supply-chain efficiencies and control, as well as brand/product integrity.  DQSA’s law establishes standards for interoperable exchange of transaction information, including documenting the history of product movement, among all trading partners using unique numerical identifiers for each unit of sale.


The GS1 Systems of Standards offers global standards to fundamentally improve efficiencies and visibility of supply chain and applies to multiple industries ranging from healthcare to food and beverage and retail. To support safety initiatives bar codes are being implemented and to have a quick response to product recalls. GS1 also provides an EPCglobal ( Drug Pedigree Standard and certification.


According to The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) final ruling, medical devices distributed in the US, must carry a unique device identifier. This includes Class III medical devices, which must meet UDI requirements and also include submission to the GUDID by September 24, 2014. A UDI system has the potential to improve the quality of information in medical device adverse event reports, better target recalls and improve patient safety.

Centralization: The Next Norm in Labeling

In a bid to improve consistency and to streamline processes across their supply chains, many businesses are centralizing bar code labeling across all locations and geographies. Centralization supports business continuity and lowers the IT cost of maintaining multiple labeling systems. Owing to the recent innovation in enterprise labeling technology, it becomes imperative to move to a centralized labeling model. Here are three main reasons for centralization

Labeling Consistency

Organizations are trying to ensure their global locations produce labels in line with corporate standards with respect to formatting and data content perspective to improve supply chain efficiency. Marketing departments are becoming increasingly involved in making sure corporate brand standards are incorporated.

Business Continuity

Global organizations can swiftly shift labeling to support operations and removes risk in replicating labels which may be facility or region specific thereby supporting business continuity in the event of natural disasters and geopolitical unrest.

IT Maintenance Costs

Managing multiple, different labeling solutions across global operations becomes increasingly difficult. However a single, centralized solution can be deployed by organizations to reduce IT maintenance costs while allowing businesses to meet customer and regulatory labeling requirements.

Customer Responsiveness :Adherence to Labeling Requirements

Suppliers and partners must be flexible to meet unique customer labeling requirements to show customer responsiveness. Customers are now seeking those providers to meet their own labeling requirements for data content, images, symbologies and languages. Advances in enterprise labeling have made sure companies gain new customers while catering to the needs of the existing customers. Customer responsiveness in labeling must ideally meet the following expectations:

Specific Data Content Inclusion

Unique data attributes are now sought by customers on labels provided by their suppliers in a bid to streamline their processes and limit relabeling when goods are received. The unique data attributes include transactional data like quantities, lot numbers or expiration dates to actual data from the customer’s enterprise applications including product codes or purchase order numbers.

Formatting Standards

Customers are looking to get their preferred label format delivered by suppliers; this desire is stoked with an aim to control label formatting across multiple suppliers. Also customers want to maintain brand consistency and simplify the receipt of goods and are specifying where data elements appear, images to be used and incorporation of bar code symbologies. Once these are incorporated, customers are satisfied to receive goods that align with their internal labeling standards.


Customers want their supplier and partners to include the necessary data in the appropriate language for subsequent local processing. In addition, the ever changing standards/regulations dictate which language needs to be applied to labels where goods are going through their supply chain.

Labeling: Data-Driven and Integrated

Critical need for label accuracy compels the adoption of automated, transactional-based labeling by companies to improve operational efficiency. A data-driven approach will help companies replace static and dynamic label templates which can simplify maintenance and ensure accuracy.  The move towards data-driven labeling is because of

Integrated Labeling

Most companies are replacing manual labeling processes with automated, integrated labeling which is the best practice of initiating labeling from their transactional system.

Importance of Big Data

Data-driven approach to labeling enables support for all labeling needs by making fields on a label dynamic and variable. Using a single update a change can be initiated to all labels without making changes to numerous templates.

Integration: Product Lifecycle Management and Content Management Systems

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Content Management Systems (CMC) are the main definitive sources of data which can appear on a label. Data-driven integration with an enterprise labeling system is paramount and by taking content from PLM and CMS, companies can ensure that label content is accurate and up-to-date.

Role of Suppliers

Increasingly companies are looking towards suppliers and partners to be meet their labeling requirements thereby increasing supply chain collaboration and streamlining operations. This will lead to accuracy and immediate deployment of labels.

Relabeling Costs

Companies must ensure that suppliers adhere to corporate labeling standards which allow compliance and costly relabeling work is avoided.  Although relabeling process ensures proper bar code symbologies, images, branding and data content to support subsequent processing, it is a very costly process.

Supply-Chain Association

Forecasting, inventory level management and on-time delivery rates- technology is leveraged by customers, suppliers and partners to show tangible benefits. Supply-chain collaboration is increasingly becoming important.

Labeling Errors Reduction

Enterprise labeling technology can help companies to combat supplier label change errors by making them use their labeling solution to print accurate and current labels in line with labeling standards.


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