What is Pharmacode?

 In 301

pharmacode imagesPharmaceutical Binary Code or pharmacode was developed my Laetus GMBH, a German company founded in 1974. Think of the Laetus Pharmacode as the original error prevention solution for the pharmaceutical packaging, except…

…pharmacode is technically not really a barcode, at least not as we think of barcodes. While it does encode numerical data sort of like a UPC does, it does not have a start stop pattern, and thus pharmacode is meant to be scanned in one direction only. Scanning it left to right will get a different sequence of numbers than scanning it right to left. As its official name implies, pharmacode data is binary rather than decimal. The minimum barcode is 2 bars (number 3) and the maximum is 16 (number 131070).

The intended purpose of pharmacode is to ensure that the pharmaceutical product in a package is the correct product, along with the correct supporting documentation. It is a packing control system designed to prevent packing errors. It is also a very robust symbol, designed to survive printing errors and subsequent, post-production damage.

Because of its presence in the healthcare industry, there is some confusion about whether pharmacode will be replaced by the UDI system now in implementation in the US and elsewhere. In fact pharmacode will be unaffected by the UDI initiative since the UDI system deals with medical devices and pharmacode deals only with pharmaceutical products.

Pharmacode can be printed in a wide assortment of colors, unlike barcodes intended to be read with laser or laser emulating light sources. This is possible because pharmacode is scanned with special Laetus white light scanners. This makes pharmacode a very practical format for being printed on packaging or documents that may or may not involve a black ink layer.BW Pharmacode

Verifiers are available for pharmacode from Axicon, who offers the only white light verifier on the market. Webscan also has pharmacode verifying capability but only in laser emulating 660nm red light.

Pharmacode generators are available online as well as through GS1, for companies needing to produce pharmacode symbols for their products.

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  • Avatar
    Greg Tanner

    There are other companies offering white light verifiers – this is something that could easily have been checked by looking at the specs of leading manufacturers of verifiers, such as REA in particular (who have both the VeriCube and MLV-2D verfiers which are able to use white and/or red light) and LVS.

    Otherwise this is good summary of Pharmacodes as a symbology. Shame to lessen the value of it by appearing to be biased to one make of verifier!

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