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

Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting, A First-Rate New Resource

Earlier this summer J. Wiley & Sons published a new book called “Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting, Combating the Real Danger from Fake Drugs” by Mark Davison, CEO of Blue Sphere Health, a pharmaceutical consultancy.  I pre-ordered it on Amazon.com in the spring and it was finally delivered in July.  You may have noticed the image and link I added to the left margin under “RxTrace Recommends” shortly after I started reading it.  The hardbound book is 400 pages, including the main text, notes, references, glossary and index, but it took me until now to finish reading it.  I’ve been so busy lately that I could only read a few pages at a time, that is until my vacation when I finally had time to sit down and read the whole book.

The book is broken up into five parts.  Part 1, General Themes, provides an in-depth examination of the problem of drug counterfeiting around the world including its formal definition, the origins, costs, risks, and the contrast (and controversy) between intellectual property and anti-counterfeiting.  In the last chapter of Part 1, Davison explains the difference between “Traceability” and “Authentication”.  He points out that the term “Traceability” is sometimes known as “digital authentication”, where the term “Authentication” by itself is usually used to Continue reading Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting, A First-Rate New Resource

Discounts For PSM Interchange 2011 End Next Week

The Partnership for Safe Medicines has announced that discounted registration to their Interchange 2011 meeting will end on September 15th.  That’s next Thursday.  So if you were thinking about attending, make your decision now and register through this link before the end of next Thursday.  After that the fees will increase.

If you are not familiar with the PSM organization or their Interchange gathering I suggest that Continue reading Discounts For PSM Interchange 2011 End Next Week

California Board of Pharmacy Re-awaken

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 first time in over two years the topic of pedigree appears on the agenda of the California Board of Pharmacy for their upcoming meeting on September 7.  Earlier this year in a presentation at the FDA Track & Trace Workshop Board Executive Office Virginia Herald mentioned that the Board would take up the topics of inference, drop shipments, decommissioning and linkage between shipping orders and invoices at a future meeting in 2011.  It’s hard to tell if those will be the actual topics discussed in next week’s meeting because they aren’t called out explicitly.  Here is the item as it actually appears on the agenda: Continue reading California Board of Pharmacy Re-awaken

Estimated Rise in Serialized Drugs in The U.S. Supply Chain, 2011

Last year at this time I started an annual estimate of the rise in the percentage of drugs in the U.S. supply chain that will have serial numbers attached.  Click here to read last year’s essay that explains the concept.  It’s not an estimate of the actual percentage today.  Rather, it’s a prediction of the rise from an immeasurably small percentage in early 2010 to 100% at some time in the future.  My plan is to revisit my prediction each year at this time to see how it is faring.  (click the drawing to enlarge it.)

Last year I said I would need to update my prediction if anything in the legal landscape changes.  Nothing has really changed in the last year that would lead me to change my prediction so here is my graph with no changes to the data over last year.  I have simply updated the year and placed an arrow on the X-axis to show the current point in time.

As I pointed out last year, it will be kind of hard to tell how well my prediction is doing if some authority with the means to measure the actual percentage doesn’t step up and make it public.  In the last 12 months no entity has stepped up to Continue reading Estimated Rise in Serialized Drugs in The U.S. Supply Chain, 2011

Pew Prescription Project: After Heparin

Last week the Pew Prescription Project, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trust, released a report on the risks of substandard and counterfeit drugs.  This is a meticulously researched report that will likely be used by legislators and regulators to better understand the problems and potential solutions of U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain security.  For this reason it is a must-read for anyone interested in the topics that RxTrace routinely explores.  You can get a copy of the full report PDF, view the associated webcast and graphic here:  After Heparin: Protecting Americans from the Risks of Substandard and Counterfeit Drugs.  I’ll have more to say about the webcast in a subsequent essay.

According to the “Introduction and Background”,

“The U.S. Congress, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the pharmaceutical industry and other organizations have renewed their commitments to remedy existing weaknesses.  This white paper seeks to inform these efforts by presenting a holistic picture of the pharmaceutical supply chain and its problems (illustrated by case studies), and to propose a set of meaningful reforms that will better protect patients.”

The report is 77 pages of text with 24 additional pages of references.  The text is peppered with numbered references for those who want more details on a particular topic.

There are three Chapters.

  1. Pharmaceutical Manufacturing:  Globalization and Quality Management
  2. Barriers to FDA Oversight
  3. Pharmaceutical Distribution

Chapter 1 contains Continue reading Pew Prescription Project: After Heparin

DISCLAIMER: RxTrace contains some of the personal thoughts, ideas and opinions of Dirk Rodgers. The material contained in RxTrace is not legal advice. Dirk Rodgers is not a lawyer.
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