I attended the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) Interchange 2011 conference on October 27 in Washington DC. (I’ll cover that event more fully in a future essay.) For me, the event couldn’t have been better, but I measure events like this perhaps a little differently than most people. The agenda is important and the quality of the speakers is absolutely important, but in my view those are simply the things that lead to the one thing that can transform a merely good conference into a great conference: the quality of the attendees.
(The quality of the attendees is exactly why I like the HDMA Track and Trace Seminar. BTW, this year’s HDMA event starts this Thursday).
In the case of this year’s PSM event, I rate the quality of the attendees very high, and that’s because I had a number of great conversations with some very knowledgeable people during the breaks and at the social event the evening before. That was my interaction with the attendees, not the speakers. One of the topics of conversation surrounded the question of what exactly it was the led to the successful challenge to the Prescription Drug Marketing Act (PDMA) pedigree provisions in the RxUSA v. HHS court case and appeal and whether or not the same thing might occur with other drug pedigree laws.
AN IMPORTANT QUESTION GOES UNANSWERED
One of the first speakers at the PSM event was U.S. Representative Jim Matheson (D-UT), sponsor of H.R.3026, the “Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2011” which was introduced into the House of Representatives on September 22, 2011. There are some differences, but the core of this new bill is basically the same as Continue reading Impact of RxUSA v. HHS On Future Pedigree Legislation
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
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
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
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
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
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
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