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Many Users are unaware of the certifications required in order for a balance to be used for sales in trade (retail), and the even more stringent requirements for a balance to be used to count pills in a pharmacy. The National Committee on Weights and Measures (the NCWM), in conjunction with the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP), set the stringent requirements for balances and scales which are to be used in trade applications. Those scales and balances which meet their requirements are deemed to be “legal for trade”. All scales and balances which meet the requirements and which pass NTEP testing are granted a certificate of conformance. These are the only scales which should be used for counting pills in a pharmacy, as required by all state laws.
NCWM publishes several handbooks that contain the basic rules that govern weighing for trade. The Handbook which relates most directly to the pharmacy and pill counting is Handbook 44. There are a number of tests that the NTEP requires a scale which is to used for pill counting in a pharmacy must pass. These tests are very important in determining if the balance is suitable for counting pills in a pharmacy and provide protection for both the Customer and the Pharmacist.
A major computer manufacturer has launched a campaign for the use of 2D barcode labeling on drug supply bottles. The campaign targets drug manufacturers and explains the benefits of having additional information coded in the label to allow for supply chain control. While this is an important consideration, we must also look at the potential benefits to the pharmacy as well.