Sandoz, a division of Novartis specializing in production of generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, has partnered with Kit Check (a company offering artificial intelligence and radio-frequency identification medication management technology). Starting this month, two RFID-tagged injectable Sandoz products will be available in US hospitals.
Outsourcing-Pharma spoke about the RFID management technology with Robert Spina (RS), vice president of key accounts and sales with Sandoz; and Kevin MacDonald (KM), Kit Check CEO and co-founder. The two explained how the technology helps medical professionals manage inventory, save time, conserve costs and improve patient safety.
OSP: Could you please tell us about Sandoz?
RS: Our ambition is to make Sandoz the world’s leading and most valued generics company; to realize that ambition, we have a clear plan to focus on specific segments of the off-patent market such as biosimilars, generic injectables and opthalmics, where we can do the most to pioneer access for patients. We have a broad global portfolio of high-quality medicines that covers all major therapeutic areas, and includes leading positions in biosimilars, anti-infectives and oncology.
Globally, Sandoz is a leader in generic oncology medicines, which complements our leading positions in generic anti-infectives and biosimilars. Our oncology portfolio of more than 50 products reaches patients in nearly 100 countries and spans the full range from chemotherapy via hormones and supportive care, to more targeted biologics; furthermore, our oncology offering also complements the leading innovative presence of Novartis Oncology.
OSP: Could you please talk a little bit about the evolution of RFID technology in this space?
KM: We have seen RFID revolutionize retail, aerospace, and other industrial supply chains. This technology allows detailed and interoperable item-level data that can be scanned and updated without line of sight means.
Since 2012, Kit Check has led the US hospital market in RFID adoption for medication inventory management. Historically, clinicians needed to affix RFID labels on vials and syringes of medication to be scanned in Kit Check’s proprietary scanning stations.
With the launch of Sandoz pre-tagged medications, vials will arrive at hospitals with the RFID label embedded in the dose packaging right off the manufacturing line. This provides an additional level of cost and time savings for clinicians.
OSP: How has RFID benefited pharma manufacturers, clinical trial teams, healthcare providers, patients and others? Please feel free to talk about safety, inventory management, thwarting counterfeiters or anything else.
RS, KM: Through its collaboration with Kit Check, Sandoz will help hospital pharmacies improve efficiency, reduce risk and better support patient treatment in hospitals by providing real-time inventory reports and timely tracking of expiration of products and recalls. This will aid in automatic replenishment of supplies long-term.
Especially during a pandemic, ensuring medicines are readily available, in addition to keeping prices stable, is paramount to patient care when healthcare systems are already being challenged and overwhelmed. Both Sandoz and Kit Check are members of the newly formed industry consortium DoseID, launched in August 2020 to ensure standardization and interoperability of RFID in the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Kit Check is a leader in RFID-based medication inventory tracking and automated tray processing in use at more than 500 hospitals in the US and Canada. RFID tags are applied to vials, syringes, bags, and other medication packages and supplies in trays and kits and used to track each medication that passes through the hospital pharmacies.
Scanners will automatically identify the products in terms of NDC, lot number, and expiration date, saving time for hospital staff and reducing the risk of medical error. As a result, the pharmacy can see the product’s journey from the plant to the point of administration in real time.
OSP: Please tell us a little more about Kit Check.
KM: Kit Check is the leading provider of automated medication tracking solutions for hospital pharmacies in the US, bringing visibility, simplicity, and predictability to the complex world of medication supply management. Our groundbreaking medication intelligence platforms provide item level visibility, workflow simplicity and actionable analytics, empowering stakeholders to deliver the right medicine to the right patient at the right time, every time.
The flagship Kit Check product is an RFID-based automated medication tray management system, designed to help hospital pharmacies gain better visibility into medication usage and lifespan, increase efficiencies, and free up staff to focus on patient care. Kit Check is live in over 500 hospitals and there are medications available pre-tagged with RFID from every major 503b outsourcing facility and, launching in October 2020, generic manufacturer Sandoz.
OSP: How did your two companies come to work together?
KM, RS: This is a real testament to Sandoz and Kit Check’s exceptionally close relationships with customers. One of our mutual customers reached out to Sandoz to see if they could partner with Kit Check to make manually tagging medications a thing of the past. A short time later, here we are, with the first of its kind RFID tagged medication from a cGMP facility.
OSP: When should pharma companies and their production/design partners start thinking about integrating RFID solutions?
RS: While this technology isn’t new and is used for so many other processes requiring automation, it is new to the pharmaceutical industry and has been a learning curve for all of us to integrate this technology into our manufacturing process. We look forward to broader use of RFID as we begin to realize the benefits of it for timely reporting, transparency of stockouts or notification of re-orders, and to facilitate recalls and identification of expiration dates.
OSP: You refer to how RFID technology might help the “strained” supply chain. Could you please elaborate?
RS: Sandoz entered into a long-term partnership with Kit Check, Inc. a leader in automated medication management solutions for hospitals, to automate the restocking of certain Sandoz products in hospitals in the US. The collaboration seeks to optimize the supply chain by providing real-time inventory reports, as well as timely tracking of recalls and product expirations
OSP: What else would you like to talk about that we didn’t touch upon above?
RS: Across the industry, COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to look at how we want to connect as an organization, how we work as teams, and how we connect with our customers and suppliers to ultimately ensure patients have the medicines they need, when they need them.