Barcodes Save the World (Again) The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that within the developed world, up to 1 percent of medicines are counterfeit. When including undeveloped countries, that skyrockets to 10 percent. With many pharmaceuticals being manufactured in other countries and shipped to their final destinations through vulnerable trade routes, the UK and EU are working together to protect this cargo and the people who need it. In 2011, they adopted the Falsified Medicines Directive, which required that all medicines have an â€œ authenticity feature on the outer packaging." It was later decided that this feature would be a unique serial number most likely to be implemented through a 2D printed barcode. Nearly all prescription-only medicines will be included in the program. Upon distribution to a patient, the barcode will be scanned so the serial number can be removed from the master database, preventing the same serial number from being used to authenticate medications additional times, making distribution of counterfeits tougher and, hopefully, less lucrative. Stricter regulations and barcode labeling are helping to ensure the appropriate drugs at the needed levels are being distributed. In an extreme example, upwards of 100,000 people die each year in Africa from the use of bogus medicine. With every smartphone or satellite phone a potential scanner, barcodes provide a fast and affordable tracking and prevention methodology that can be used almost anywhere in the world. The success of these programs is spurring innovation not just in barcodes, but in packaging. Medicine bottles and boxes are being entirely redesigned to help make scanning of the barcode easy and accurate. Pharmacies are on the hunt for clever design, better scanning and accurate tracking of products. Itâ€™s a better time than ever to be building barcode functions into applications.