$900 million in savings projected through use of GS1 bar code standards

November 3, 2010

Toronto, ON – Canada’s vaccine industry is getting a major shot in the arm; one that will modernize and transform the identification, distribution and use of vaccines across the country to improve patient safety, immunization record-keeping and generate significant cost savings within the healthcare system.

Collaboration between the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), vaccine manufacturers, stakeholders and GS1 Canada on the Automated Identification of Vaccine Projects (AIVP) initiative has resulted in a collective endorsement of a Consensus Statement on the use of GS1 DataBarTM or GS1 DataMatrix (2D) bar codes on the inner package of vaccine products as a national standard for vaccine identification in Canada.

“A national protocol for identifying vaccines using globally standard bar codes will without question improve efficiencies and reduce errors throughout the Canadian healthcare system,” said Dr. Robert Van Exan, Director, Immunization Policy, Sanofi Pasteur Limited. “These standards will increase confidence in the healthcare system and most importantly, better serve patients.”

This Consensus Statement is based in part on a critical Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) commissioned by the AIVP Advisory Task Group. Conducted by an independent third party, the CBA identified significant benefits arising from the adoption and implementation of GS1 bar codes on vaccines approved for use in Canada, including cost-savings of more than $900-million dollars over a 20-year period.

The CBA also found that the implementation of GS1 bar codes on vaccine products would result in significant time savings (bar code scanning vs. manual entry), improved immunization record completeness and accuracy, reduction in supply shortages, and improved supply chain management.

“Studies have shown that between 5-15% of immunization records are missing important information and up to 24% contain errors,” said Dr. Monika Naus, Associate Director, Epidemiology Services, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.  “A streamlined vaccine identification system will allow healthcare workers to better maintain and ensure accurate, up-to-date immunization records.”

To support the use of bar codes in healthcare settings, the Public Health Agency of Canada is moving forward with the development of the Vaccine Information Database System (VIDS). VIDS is envisioned to be a national, online database containing comprehensive information on all vaccines licensed for use in Canada. A portion of the information for this system is already available from manufacturers through GS1 Canada’s National Product Registry, and GS1 Canada will provide an integrated data feed from this registry to VIDS.

“This collaborative industry effort will completely modernize the way vaccine products in Canada are identified,” said N. Arthur Smith, President and CEO, GS1 Canada.  “Consensus on the use of globally standardized bar codes is a critical step in creating national immunization tracking and traceability capability; further improving the safety of Canadian patients.”

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About GS1 Canada
GS1 Canada is a member of GS1, the world’s leading supply chain standards organization. As a neutral, not-for-profit organization, GS1 Canada enables its more than 10,000 members – trading partners of all sizes from over 20 sectors across Canada – to enhance their efficiency and cost effectiveness by adopting electronic supply chain best practices. Learn more at www.gs1ca.org.

For more information, contact:
Lianne Castelino
Senior Manager, Public Affairs
GS1 Canada
416-510-8039 x2229