Inspecting An Electronic Pedigree

Within conversations held during the development of standards for electronic pedigrees it is sometimes common to hear people apply the following test to any pedigree proposal:

“A state inspector arrives at your facility without prior warning, enters the warehouse, picks up any random package of drugs and asks to see ‘the pedigree’ for this package.”

The point being made is that, according to the California Pedigree Law, at the very least, supply chain members will need to be capable of producing a full pedigree for any and every package of drugs in their possession at any time in case of a surprise inspection.

This scenario is an important one when selecting a pedigree model, but it often causes me to think about exactly what the company being inspected would show the inspector, and how they would do that.  Continue reading Inspecting An Electronic Pedigree

Why GS1 EPCIS Alone Won’t Work For California Pedigree, Part 1

Important Notice To Readers of This Essay On November 27, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Drug Quality and Security Act of 2013 into law. That act has many provisions, but one is to pre-empt all existing and future state serialization and pedigree laws like those that previously existed in California and Florida. Some or all of the information contained in this essay is about some aspect of one or more of those state laws and so that information is now obsolete. It is left here only for historical purposes for those wishing to understand those old laws and the industry’s response to them.For the application of unique serial numbers, or Standard Numerical Identifiers (SNIs), to packages as part of compliance with the California Pedigree Law in 2015-2017 , GS1’s Electronic Product Code (EPC), particularly in barcode form, is the clear winning standard.  But there seems to be a very common misconception going around that for pedigree data management, all you need to do to comply with that law is to deploy a system that is based solely on the GS1 Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard.  The  misconception assumes that there is a formula that can be followed to achieve compliance and that EPCIS is the whole formula.

In truth, EPCIS will almost certainly be an important component in the compliance formula but exactly how it fits, and whether there are other necessary components, has not yet been determined.

There are probably several reasons that this misconception persists.  First, GS1 US continues to promote their 2015 “Readiness” Program as if it is that formula.  The program documentation strongly implies that, if you simply follow their program, you will “be ready” to comply with the law; but it stops short of actually saying that you will be compliant.

Second, it seems like people are either able to understand the law well but not the technical standards, or they are able to understand the technical standards well but not the law.  The legal folks are left to trust what the technical people say about EPCIS, and the technical people assume that as long as the data elements identified in the law are present somewhere then EPCIS must comply.

Now I am not a legal expert but I’ve been looking at the text of the California Pedigree Law for a few years now and I think I understand it at a level that allows me to estimate how various technical approaches might fill its requirements.  Let me show you how Continue reading Why GS1 EPCIS Alone Won’t Work For California Pedigree, Part 1

Safe Prescription Drug Reimportation: An Oxymoron

Every couple of years it seems that someone introduces a bill into the U.S. Congress that would one way or another legalize the reimportation of prescription drugs into the U.S. from other countries.  In December of 2009, right around the time that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was being debated intensely Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced a bill to do just that.

You may recall that there was a dustup about how Senator Barack Obama had introduced a similar bill only a few years before that, but now as President, he made a deal with the drug industry that supposedly assured that drug reimportation wouldn’t be added to the Healthcare Reform bill in exchange for the industry supporting the Reform bill.  Senator Dorgan’s bill did not pass but Healthcare Reform did (See Dr. Adam Fein’s coverage of the failure of Senator Dorgan’s bill, “Drug Importation: Dead Again”).

The reason I’m thinking about reimportation this week is that I came across an interesting document that was published last week by the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) called “A Risky Proposition:  How Opening The U.S. To Foreign Medicines Poses A Risk To Chronically Ill Americans”, a second edition.  I’m not sure why it was released now—maybe someone is thinking about introducing another reimportation bill again (I guess it’s not Senator Dorgan anyway!)—but I have an opinion about the topic Continue reading Safe Prescription Drug Reimportation: An Oxymoron