ABBOTT PARK, Ill. -- Abbott Laboratories has reaffirmed its support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) final bar coding rule, which will require bar codes on most drugs and biological products for human use within two years after the
rule's effective date. The vast majority of Abbott's bar-coded hospital
products will become part of Hospira, the independent global hospital products
business Abbott plans to launch in the first half of 2004.
In March 2003, the company completed an industry-leading effort to affix
unit-of-use bar codes to 100 percent of its hospital injectable
pharmaceuticals and intravenous (IV) solutions. The initiative encompassed
more than 1,000 products and has the ability to impact patient safety where it
is most critical, at the patient bedside. Additionally, virtually all of
Abbott's oral pharmaceuticals distributed in bottles to hospitals in the
United States already include bar codes. Abbott has also made progress in its
efforts to use bar code technology across hospital unit-dose packaging of
these oral medications.
The FDA's final rule is designed to enhance patient safety and help reduce
the number of medication errors in this country. At a minimum, the FDA will
require that bar codes contain the product's National Drug Code (NDC) number,
which identifies the company's name, the drug's name, and its strength and
"This mandate is an important part of a larger FDA initiative to address
the problem of medication errors; it's an effort we wholeheartedly support,"
said Christopher B. Begley, currently senior vice president of hospital
products at Abbott Laboratories and the named CEO of
Hospira. "Our company's bar coding initiative underscores our overall
commitment to patient safety, and we look forward to continuing to provide
innovative products and solutions that help improve medication management."
Bar codes can have a positive, significant impact in helping to reduce
medication errors and enhance patient safety. For example, bar codes on
medications allow the cross-checking of what healthcare professionals call
the "five rights" -- right patient, right drug, right dose, right route of
administration, and right time -- by scanning the patient's wristband, the
nurse's ID badge and the drug to be administered, and then matching them with
a computerized list of medications.
Addressing the challenge of affixing bar codes to smaller or odd-shaped
containers, Abbott is the first company to introduce Reduced Space
Symbology (RSS) technology commercially on its hospital injectable
pharmaceuticals and IV solutions. RSS technology allows for a miniaturized
bar code to be applied to single-unit containers as small as a pen cap.
Studies have shown that bar codes may dramatically reduce the risks
associated with improper dosing and/or administration of drugs, lowering
medication error rates by approximately 85 percent. Of note, the Veterans
Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Topeka, Kan., reduced its medication error
rate by 86.2 percent after it implemented a bar coding system. A hospital in
New Hampshire lowered its medication error rate by 80 percent.
In addition to its pioneering bar coding initiative, Abbott's hospital
products business recently launched Abbott MedNet, a drug library software
that provides clinical decision rules for up to 1,200 medications and is
designed to improve medication management at the hospital patient's bedside,
offering protection against IV-medication errors. Setting a new industry
standard, the software is the first to offer "best-practice" guidelines for
both hard and soft dose- and rate-setting limits for primary and secondary
infusion. MedNet is the newest addition to the company's Encoded Care
initiative, which highlights the technology-driven solutions that may help
customers enhance productivity and improve patient care. Also in the product
portfolio is LifeCare PCA3 Infusion System, a patient-controlled analgesia
(PCA) device -- the first of its kind to incorporate a built-in bar code
reader to identify and verify drug and dose concentrations automatically.
In August 2003, Abbott Laboratories announced it would create a new
company comprised of its global core hospital products business, which was
recently named Hospira. As a specialty pharmaceutical and medication delivery
company, Hospira's business will include: medication delivery systems, such as
medication management systems (including electronic pumps and the new MedNet
drug library software), infusion therapy and critical care products; and
specialty injectable pharmaceuticals, including generic acute-care injectables
and intensive care pharmaceuticals. Once the new company is launched, which
is expected to be in the first half of 2004, it will have approximately 14,000
employees worldwide, will be headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., north of
Chicago, and will be among the largest manufacturers of hospital products in
the United States.
Abbott Laboratories is a global, broad-based healthcare company devoted
to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals,
nutritionals, and medical products, including devices and diagnostics. The
company employs more than 70,000 people and markets its products in more than
Source: Abbott Laboratories