Maximize Interoperability and Traceability with Unique Location Identification in Healthcare

Accurately track and trace healthcare products across the supply chain with the Global Location Number

Healthcare organizations are united by the need to improve patient outcomes and safety. They are focused on connecting supply chain information to track, trace and verify products through their unique identifiers from the point of manufacture to the point of use, which includes meeting the requirements of Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA)*, U.S. FDA’s Unique Device Identification (UDI) Rule**, and Meaningful Use Stage 3.

Establishing a GS1 Standards-based traceability system is essential to supporting the industry’s ability to protect patients’ and facilitate chain of custody, ownership, and authentication.

The healthcare supply chain can be highly complex, particularly with products that follow multiple routes from the manufacturer to the point of care. Some products can be delivered directly to an operating room by a supplier, while others can be distributed via a combination of methods (third party logistics provider, wholesaler, or distributor).

If your company uses, or has plans to use, the GS1 GLN to uniquely identify, communicate and share location information, these implementation resources will help you.

A GS1 Global Location Number (GLN) is a globally unique 13-digit number that is used to identify physical and functional locations as well as legal entities. GLNs are used to identify parties to business transactions; functional groups within a company; or real, physical “places” that might ship, receive, process, or hold inventories.

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The Benefits of using the GLN

The GS1 Global Location Number can be used to uniquely identify any location or legal entity anywhere in the world—from physical places that may ship, receive, process, or hold inventories; to functional entities like a hospital pharmacy, nurses’ station, or specific department; to digital locations like an ERP system.

The benefits of using GLNs include the following:

  • Patient safety and improved inventory management – GLNs are key to knowing where a product is at any time within its supply chain. They ensure that the product is available when and where it is needed. They also help enable faster, more accurate returns in the event of a recall.
  • Verification of returns – GLNs help ensure authenticity of products for rebate or resale, if eligible.
  • Accuracy – GLNs can facilitate pricing, contract, and chargeback accuracy by allowing for a single globally unique identifier for each trading partner location.
  • Flexibility – GLNs can be encoded into a GS1-128 and a GS1 DataMatrix barcode as well as an Electronic Product Code (EPC®)-enabled Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag to support multiple trade item identification needs.
  • Global visibility and traceability – GLNs provide a globally unique answer to the “who?” and “where?” portion of EPC Information Services (EPCIS) critical tracking read events for track and trace across the supply chain.

GLN Resources to Support DSCSA

The goal of GLN implementation in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is to use standardized location identification (GLNs) to uniquely identify any location or legal entity needed to accurately track and trace pharmaceutical products across their supply chains.

GLNs are vital for helping to meet the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) party and location identification requirements. They identify locations in electronic business transactions and enable the products themselves to serve as digital “mile posts” along the supply chain.

These GS1 US resources are designed to help pharmaceutical industry trading partners implement GLN for support of the following uses cases:

  • Saleable returns with Verification Router Services (VRS)
  • Track and trace with Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS)
  • Communicating master data with the Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN®)


*For information about the act, see the 2013 Drug Supply Chain Security Act

**For information about the rule, see the U.S. FDA Unique Device Identification System

Disclaimer: GS1 US is the local GS1 Member Organization that supports implementation of the GS1 System in the United States. GS1 US employees are not representatives or agents of the U.S. FDA, and the content herein has not been reviewed, approved, or authorized by the U.S. FDA.

GS1 is a U.S. FDA-Accredited Issuing Agency for UDI, and GS1 Standards are authorized for use in implementing the requirements of the U.S. FDA UDI Rule.