Tracelink vs. HDA

What a surprise it was to learn yesterday from Phil Taylor of SecuringIndustry that Tracelink, a traceability software vendor, has filed a lawsuit against the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), a non-profit industry organization representing the larger wholesale distributors in the United States (see SecuringIndustry, “TraceLink sues HDA over control of pharma track-and-trace data”).  I had to check the calendar to see if it was April 1st.

It wasn’t. 

In a 32-page complaint filed in the United States District Court of Eastern District of Virginia two weeks before the HDA’s annual Traceability Seminar, Tracelink alleges that the HDA engaged in a conspiracy with the “Big 3” wholesale distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen in anticompetitive and anti-trust acts.

“Specifically, the HDA coordinated and, served as a conduit for, collective, anticompetitive acts designed to foreclose, and that have had the effect of substantially foreclosing, competition in the supply of products that ‘track and trace’ pharmaceuticals as they flow through the supply chain, including competition from plaintiff TraceLink.”


It’s about HDA’s Origin master data service (see “Dawn of HDA’s Origin, The Key to DSCSA Compliance”).  You can find Tracelink’s complaint here.  Back in May, Pharmaceutical Commerce published an article about a new Network Product Master Data Service Tracelink was introducing (see Pharmaceutical Commerce “TraceLink links up drug-distribution data for its clients”).

But wait, didn’t HDA introduce their Origin master data service back in March, months before Tracelink introduced their similar service?  Check the dates!

Well, it’s not that simple.  According to Tracelink’s complaint:

“The HDA sought to develop Origin after certain of its members, in a confidential TraceLink briefing, learned of TraceLink plans to supply a track and trace product that would assist companies in the healthcare industry to comply with DSCSA regulations. These members reported to the HDA, and, as a result, to other HDA member wholesaler competitors about the TraceLink product functionality and TraceLink strategies. The HDA then, informed by these product designs and with the assistance of another technology vendor called ValueCentric, chose, collectively with and on behalf of its members, to supply and market its own DSCSA-compliant solution.”

Wow, talk about intrigue!  I highly recommend reading the full complaint.  I found it gripping and I think you will too.  Tracelink is demanding a jury trial and treble damages.  I think I’ll leave it at that for now.

People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?


In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently employed by Systech International, a competitor of TraceLink in one product area.  Systech International is currently a solution provider member of the HDA.  Back in 2007 and 2008 I was employed by SupplyScape, the predecessor company to TraceLink and run mostly by the same people.  From 2002 to 2007, and then from 2008 to 2012 I was employed by Cardinal Health, one of the “Big 3” wholesale distributors who is an important member of the HDA.  During 2013 and 2014 my own consultancy was a solution provider member of HDA.  I have also been a long-time active member of GS1 and GS1 US.  RxTrace is a wholly owned by Dirk Rodgers Consulting, LLC and is not owned or controlled by any other company.