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Markem-Image’s coding and marking solutions for healthcare and pharmaceutical products

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Everyday millions of consumers rely on various healthcare and pharmaceutical products to alleviate symptoms, increase well-being and in some cases for survival. Accurate coding and marking is important in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

Markem-Imaje  have developed various coding and marking solutions that ensure optimum uptime, speed, productivity, anti-counterfeiting methods and quality.

The 9030 Series of multi-head, multi-jet printers, available from Markem-Imaje, are being used to print product description, batch codes and lot numbers for traceability purposes onto pre-printed materials (paper and polythene).

Using a single twinjet printhead, one of the printers operates in forward and reverse mode to print around 1.7 million characters per hour, making it an ideal coding solution in demanding production lines.

Markem-Imaje’s Plant and Development Manager at Pennine, Darryl Orridge, said: “Our coding applications call for speed, flexibility and reliability. We had already experienced the reliability of the S4s and S8s and the 9030s have exceeded our expectations. The twin jet option on the 9030 gives us the ability to print a large amount of text at speed and, with the Imaje Message Centre, operators can download messages quickly and simply; imperative when there is an average of 25-30 message changes per day.”

Not only is speed, reliability and quality a main concern in this application, but also compliance with the food and drug association, as all printing onto medications to be ingested have to be done using a FDA compliant ink.

The FDA-compliant 5312 blue ink available from Markem-Imaje produces small, legible print on pills and tablets, ideal for coding directly onto pharmaceutical pills. By coding medications with the 5312 blue ink, pills and tablets are easily identifiable, ensuring consumer protection and adding value to the product.

The blue colour offers a high level of contrast with the printed substrate, enabling high legibility of the code. The easy-to-read codes also enable product differentiation and marketing visibility for the pharmaceutical professional.

To this issue, Markem-Imaje has released the Datamatrix bi-dimensional barcode to combat counterfeiting, which is becoming increasingly prevalent due to advances in technology.

This method of coding allows the identification of the product by lot or by the unit and ensures both effective internal and external tracking. Even if the printable space on the packages is becoming increasingly small, the Datamatrix barcode has a data storage capacity of up to 72 characters in 6x6mm.

The Datamatrix barcode can be easily read even if it has been partially damaged or if the print contrast is limited. Recognised by the GS1 norms, it has become a standard international barcode used worldwide.

The Datamatrix barcode is an anti-counterfeiting barcode, commonly used by the EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) which recommends the use of the Datamatrix barcode on all medicine boxes before 2010.

It is also implemented by the IFAH (International Federation for Animal Health) to code veterinarian products.

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industry have an obligation to ensure the ultimate safety and wellbeing of their consumers, meaning that quality and safety are principal deciding factors when investing in coding and marking solutions.

As with any industry, manufacturers need to seek the total cost of ownership, not just a cheap upfront cost.

Coding and marking specialist companies should manufacture and service what they sell to guarantee complete commitment and support of the technology, and invest heavily in R&D to ensure cutting edge technology and future-ready equipment, not only to maximise the customer’s initial investment, but to assure consumer safety.

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