Tag Archives: GTIN

The Great Pharmaceutical Barcode Dilemma

Last week was the FDA held a Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) supply chain stakeholder’s call. One caller asked a particularly interesting question—in light of the 2D barcode requirement in the DQSA, would packaging still be required to accommodate 1D barcodes? Since drug packages are often quite small in size, it can be difficult to include both.

Currently, 1D barcodes are required on pharmaceuticals, and 2D barcodes are being added since they become an official requirement in 2017. Those in the pharmaceutical industry feel that, “Requiring the new 2D barcode without removing the linear barcode requirement would be the worst possible outcome because it will take up more real estate on drug packages and will delay the use of the 2D barcode which will delay the benefits to the industry and to patients.”

While barcodes in the pharmaceutical industry were already examined a few years back for track and trace regulations, those in the industry are urging for the elimination of the 1D barcode.

In order to ensure the safety of pharmaceuticals around the world, most governments are requiring serial number. And while pharmaceutical companies can obtain a serial number from the GS1 (a Global Trade Item number, or GTIN), this number can not be added to a standard UPC barcode commonly used on most items.

Since the UPC-A symbology does not support the addition of the other information, such as a serial number, some have decided to go with Code-128, which can embed more characters, rather than two separate barcodes. However, this barcode is extremely lengthy, and not well suited for the small packaging in the pharmaceutical industry.

The obvious solution would be to move towards a 2D barcode. However, currently, the U.S. requires that drugs sold into the U.S market be identified with their serial number in the form of a linear barcode, leaving Code-128.

But, based on the recent call, it appears that the FDA may be open to reexamining the barcode dilemma in the pharmaceutical industry.

However, it is important to consider that there are still a lot of companies throughout the pharmaceutical supply chain who are still only capable of scanning 1D barcodes.

What do you think of the pharmaceutical barcode dilemma? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.










GEPIR: Global GS1 Electronic Party Information Registry

GEPIR, or Global Electronic Party Information Register, is a database that holds information for over 1,000,000 companies in over 100 countries throughout the world. On the GS1 website, the GS1 Member Organizations allow you to search by barcode/GTIN, Container Code (SSCC), Location Number (GLN) and company name.

Searching by GTIN
GTIN, or Global Trade Item Number, is an identifier for trade items, ultimately helping the trading process of buying and selling. GTINs are assigned to any product or service that can be priced, ordered or invoiced at any point the supply chain. The GTIN can be used to retrieve pre-defined information about the item.

Searching by SSCC
The SSCC, or Serial Shipping Container Code, is a GS1 Identification Key for any item established for transport and/or storage that needs to be tracked throughout the supply chain. The SSCC remains the same for the life time of the transport container and is a mandatory element in the GS1 Logistic Label using Application Identifier.

Searching by GLN
The GLN, or Global Location Number, is the GS1 Identification Key for Locations and can be used to identify physical locations and legal entities in order to retrieve information that helps to improve the efficiency of communications within the supply-chain.

Searching by Company Name
Through GEPIR, users can also search by company name in order to locate enterprises.

Check Digits and Check Digit Calculators

Recently, I’ve received a lot of questions regarding the check digit, or last digit in a UPC barcode. In order to calculate the check digit, which is based on the previous eleven numbers in the UPC, the following needs to be performed:

  • Add all of the digits in odd-numbered positions together and multiply the sum by three
  • Add all of the digits in even-numbered positions
  • Add the two sums together

The check digit will be the number it would take to round to the nearest multiple of 10. If the sums of your digits was 66, then, 66 + x = 70, where x represents the check digit and 70 represents the nearest multiple of 10. In this case, the check digit would be 4.

If all of this still seems confusing, then no need to worry. The GS1 has put together a GTIN and SSCC check digit calculator, also including an informative chart on how to calculate it manually.

GTIN Allocation Rules

When GS-1 member companies assign new GTINs base on product changes, there are certain rules that the must follow; a generic rule for all industries, and another industry specific rule. GTIN Allocation Rules are important because they provide a unique identification of products, forming the foundation for product data synchronization at an international level.

If your compay’s product requires a quantity change, packaging dimension change, language addition/change, or brand name change, you will also need a GTIN change and need to follow the specific GTIN Allocation Rules.

Since your product’s barcode should be linked with its GTIN, it is important to follow the allocation rules in order to keep all information on your product accurate. For more information on GTIN Allocation Rules, you can learn more here.

GS1 Terms: GLN and GTIN

What is a Global Location Number?

Global Location Numbers, or GLN’s were designed to improve the efficiency of communication with trading partners, adding detailed information such as the physical location and legal entity of an item. Basically, a GLN is a 13 digit number composed of a GS1 company prefix that identifies the organization, a location reference that is allocated by the company, and a check digit calculated with an algorithm based on the previous numbers. Rather than relying on internal numbers, GLN’s offer a method of identifying locations within and outside their company that are unique, multi-sectoral, and international.

What is a Global Trade Item Number?

A Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN is a unique GS1 System Identification Number used for products and services and can be 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits in length. Their key benefit is that information about the item with a GTIN can be retrieved when it is read in a GS1 Barcode symbol. In addition, the GTIN:

  • Faciliates the flow of products and services and the information associated with them in electronic commerce.
  • Uniquely identifies items at every level of packaging
  • Allows accurate macine reading of items when placed in barcodes
  • Delivers product information in a consistent format
  • Aids and simplifies supply chain management
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