Category Archives: Pedigree models

InBrief: ePedigree Models and Points of Failure

Over the last year in GS1, in many of the members of the U.S. pharma supply chain and even in the FDA, the focus has turned to the analysis and discussion of three classes of electronic pedigree models:

  • Fully Centralized,
  • Semi-Centralized, and
  • Fully Distributed.

I’ve discussed some of the pros and cons of these models here in RxTrace too (see “The Viability of Global Track & Trace Models”, “Should Regulations Dictate Technology?”, and “Could This Be Your Future Track & Trace/ePedigree Exchange Solution?”).

One of the characteristics included in many of these discussions is the “points of failure” of each model.  For example, I’ve heard it said several times that the Fully Centralized model suffers from a “single point of failure”, with the implication being that Fully Distributed models do not have this problem.  In fact, this is incorrect and in reality, both the Fully and Semi-Centralized models are much less likely to fail than models that fall within the Fully Distributed category when “failure” is defined as not being able to provide an ePedigree on demand in any given instance.


Wikipedia has a pretty good article on Reliability Engineering so I’ll spare you the background of the discipline that studies points of failure.  The mistake people sometimes make Continue reading InBrief: ePedigree Models and Points of Failure

GS1 Standards – Betcha Can’t Use Just One!

The title is a paraphrase of a TV commercial from the 1960’s, ’70’s and ’80’s for Lay’s Potato Chips but the sentiment is the same.  You really can’t get away with using only a single GS1 standard.  That’s why they are sometimes referred to as “The GS1 System of Standards“.  It’s a “system” of standards.  Multiple standards that are designed to work for you together in concert; as a whole; not independently.

So when your customer demands that you make use of Global Location Numbers (GLN) and/or Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), they are starting you down the path of adoption of much more than just those two “entry-level” standards (see my essay “So a customer demands that you use GLN’s and GTIN’s. What next?”).  Here is a partial list of other GS1 standards that you may benefit from adopting once you fully embrace GLN and GTIN: Continue reading GS1 Standards – Betcha Can’t Use Just One!

Could This Be Your Future Track & Trace/ePedigree Exchange Solution?

In a recent essay I discussed GS1 Healthcare’s proposed Network Centric ePedigree (NCeP) models that are currently available for review and discussion by the industry.  By the way, GS1 is giving everyone until December 15 to respond to a survey to provide them with your thoughts on the various NCeP models.  To review the videos and respond to the survey click on this link.

In a somewhat related news item, Pharmaceutical Commerce recently published an online article by Nick Basta about the Global Healthcare Exchange’s (GHX) project to build a new prototype for a track and trace data exchange hub called “GHX updates progress on a prototype data exchange for track-and-trace“.  That article was an update to a more in-depth article by Nick about the project from last April in the same online magazine called “Healthcare Exchange Bids for Prototyping a Track-and-Trace System“.  Combined, the two very interesting articles describe the prototype that is now complete and ready for piloting.

In fact, the GHX prototype implements Continue reading Could This Be Your Future Track & Trace/ePedigree Exchange Solution?

Why GS1 EPCIS Alone Won’t Work For California Pedigree, Part 2

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.There are more than one reasons why you shouldn’t expect to use GS1’s EPCIS by itself to comply with the California pedigree law.  Part 1 of this series showed that the traditional distributed network of EPCIS repositories in the U.S. pharma supply chain doesn’t work.  But that analysis assumed the use of the “vanilla” EPCIS standard, without the use of any “extensions”.  That’s not really the way GS1 intended EPCIS to be used.  In this and future essays of this series I will explore some of the approaches that make full use of the extensibility that is built into the standard.

In this Part of the series I want to take a closer look at the work of the Network Centric ePedigree work group of the GS1 Healthcare Traceability group.  I am one of the leaders of that group along with Dr. Mark Harrison of the Cambridge University AutoId Lab, Dr. Ken Traub, Independent Consultant, and Gena Morgan of GS1, along with strong contributions from Janice Kite of GS1 and Dr. Dale Moberg of Axway.  The larger group consists of people who work for companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain, GS1, and solution providers from around the globe, although I think the majority are from the U.S.

The NCeP group published a very interesting recording of a presentation that explains the details of their work.  It is called “NCeP – Technical Analysis Sub-Group, Event Based Pedigree”.  The purpose of this recording is to help people outside of the close-knit NCeP group to learn about the pedigree models developed there, evaluate them and provide feedback to the group about which model(s) should be Continue reading Why GS1 EPCIS Alone Won’t Work For California Pedigree, Part 2

U.S. Pharma Supply Chain Complexity

© Copyright 2011 Duncan Champney. used with Permission. This image was created with FractalWorks, a high performance fractal renderer for Macintosh computers. FractalWorks is available on the Mac App Store.
© Copyright 2011 Duncan Champney. used with Permission. This image was created with FractalWorks, a high performance fractal renderer for Macintosh computers. FractalWorks is available on the Mac App Store (Click on image).

The debate over pedigree regulatory models in the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain often centers around how much data for each package of drugs needs to be moved between trading partners as those drugs move down the supply chain from the manufacturer to distributor(s) and ultimately to the pharmacy.  The ideal model would minimize the amount of data moved yet always allow each member of the supply chain to check the prior history—the pedigree—of the drugs they are about to buy.

At a superficial level this appears to be all you need to do, but when you take a closer at the details of how the supply chain actually works in the U.S. you will see that there are other characteristics besides data volume per package that need to be considered.


In the debates and discussions over pedigree regulatory models we are used to seeing a view of the supply chain that shows one manufacturer, one distributor and one pharmacy.  That view masks so much important complexity that if we were to select a regulatory model or solution based on that view it would be far from ideal.

Here is a view of the supply chain where the vertical scale shows something closer to the true proportions between those three segments. Continue reading U.S. Pharma Supply Chain Complexity