FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Explained


One of the most important things for a country to safeguard is the health and safety of its residents. Hazards don’t always arrive in plain sight and are most often hidden in things we trust and consume on a daily basis. The biggest example of this is the food we eat. 

Food has the ability to nourish us and provide us with the energy to thrive in our existence, but it can also severely damage our health if not mandated properly. This is the main reason why the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was enacted in 2011 by President Obama.

The specifics of the act are complicated, and the nature of the subject matter requires extensive regulations to be upheld. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of everything worth knowing about the FSMA guidelines. We’ll show you the importance of food regulation standards, we’ll get into each aspect of the FSMA in more detail and we’ll end with what’s changed for 2021.

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2 Organizations You Need to Join to Get Ready for the DSCSA Phase II

If you are a pharmaceutical company serious about meeting the requirements of Phase II of the DSCSA, there are two organizations you must join. 

The first is the Partnership for DSCSA Governance, or the PDG. It is an organization formed by manufacturers, wholesalers, dispensers, and solution providers that are working to solve the interoperability requirements for the DSCSA for 2023. The PDG is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit business association requiring a yearly membership fee to join. 

The other is the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, or HDA, which is a long-running organization that represents many members of the pharma supply chain in a quest to advocate for public policy that supports patient access to medical products through safe, efficient, and effective distribution. The HDA also requires a yearly membership fee.

Today’s post will look at both organizations, profile what they do, and then let you know why joining them is crucial for getting the most out of the DSCSA.

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Does the DSCSA Affect How the Medical Marijuana Industry Is Regulated?

The Drug Supply Chain Security Act was enacted in 2013 to put protocols into place for the serialization and traceability of pharmaceuticals that move through the drug supply chain – from manufacturer through to the distributors until they reach the hands of the patient. The goal being to ensure the safety and purity of each medication. 

With medical marijuana being legalized in more states, this brings up the important question of if and how medical use marijuana should be handled under the guidelines of the DSCSA. Currently, the only states where medical marijuana is prohibited for all uses are Nebraska, Idaho and South Dakota. For the rest of the country, there are circumstances in which marijuana can be legally dispensed and consumed with a doctor’s prescription. Obviously, there’s the need for strict regulations, but the process for putting these regulations into place remains a little cloudy. 

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EPCIS GUIDE for your organization

*NOTE – We are including a Free Trading Partner Integration template for you to download at the end of this article.

The 2023 DSCSA requirement looms in the near future and pharma companies are frantically working together to create and implement the technological goals that create the interoperable system by November 27, 2023. To achieve the three areas of interoperability as defined by the PDSA—exchange, verification, and tracing—these companies must also land on a common informational framework. 

In other words, to create a system that allows for the DSCSA vision of “fully interoperable, electronic tracing of products at the package level,” the industry needs to pick a common standard and use it throughout pharma. I discuss the challenges in my previous article: Drug Supply Chain Security Act, Phase II: Here’s what you MUST know.

Gary Lerner, the president at Gateway Checker Corporation, explained what it would take to make this happen. In short: “Capturing and exchanging information at this level of specificity requires a common information framework.”

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Impact of COVID-19 on DSCSA Implementation

Before the pandemic struck, the pharma industry was working feverishly to implement and enforce all the requirements of the DSCSA, especially the Phase II requirements scheduled for November of 2023. When COVID-19 dramatically changed the business landscape, the implementation became even more of an uphill battle, with both time and the pandemic acting as a cause of concern. 

In today’s post, we will look at COVID-19 and its impact on the DSCSA: from the FDA loosening some of the guidelines to the different areas of the DSCSA that are being impacted the most. If we can understand the relationship between these two, we can have a better grasp of realistic understandings and the best course of action moving forward.

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Why the FDA Extended The Saleable Returns Verification from 2020 to 2023

In 2020, most things did not go as planned. Considering the overwhelming impact of the worldwide pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry was far from immune to last year’s instability.

One of the major changes came with the Saleable Returns Verification’s extension. Despite being originally scheduled for a 2020 enactment, the FDA recently announced their plan to extend, yet again, the Saleable Returns Verification enforcement until 2023.

What does this really mean? Well the FDA won’t enforce it. So should you not care? It’s not that simple.

Legal liability

Remember, the law is the law. So the Saleable Returns Verifcation did become a requirement of the law this past November 27th 2020.

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Drug Supply Chain Security Act, Phase II: Here’s what you MUST know

As 2020 transitioned to 2021, we took another step closer toward the implementation of 2023 Drug Supply Chain Security Act, Phase II. From manufacturers to wholesalers, pharmacies and other stakeholders, many uncertainties are swirling around the subject, so today we are writing to try to dispel some of the concern.

Let’s start with an overview of DSCSA Phase II and its components.  

DSCSA Phase II, which goes into effect on November 27, 2023, is intended to roll out the electronic tracing of products at the package level.  To make this happen, the 2023 requirements are comprised of three specific parts, and they are as follows:

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