Most Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) available on the market today do a fine job of allowing their users to manage inventories in the warehouses of drug manufacturers, distributors and chain drug stores. A WMS is a software system that may be a part of a larger Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, or it may be a third-party application that is interfaced with the owner’s ERP system.
All WMS systems that I am aware of are intended to be sold into multiple industries, not just in pharma. That’s so that the WMS vendor can maximize their sales. The more industries, the more sales and the more profitable it is. Because some industries have long had serial numbers on some of their products (computers and peripheral equipment, cell phones, electronics, medical equipment, appliances, etc.) WMS vendors have included serial number handling in their software for decades. In fact, I would bet that a serial number handling feature was included in WMS systems since the very beginning of that category of software.
However, buyers of WMS systems in the pharma supply chain should be very careful not to confuse a “serial number handling” or even “serialization” checkbox on the WMS vendor’s spec sheets with the kind of “serialization” they will need for compliance with modern pharma serialization regulations. I include Continue reading The Serial Number Handling In Your WMS Probably Isn’t Sufficient For Pharma Serialization
Back in 2007 the U.S. Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) and it was signed into law by President Bush. One of the provisions of that law was an instruction to the FDA to “…develop standards and identify and validate effective technologies for the purpose of securing the drug supply chain against counterfeit, diverted, subpotent, substandard, adulterated, misbranded, or expired drugs”, and “…develop standards for the identification, validation, authentication, and tracking and tracing of prescription drugs.”
The FDA fulfilled these instructions for one of the specific standards that the law identified when the agency published their Standardized Numerical Identifier (SNI) standard back in 2010. That standard was fairly high level and for the vast majority of drugs, use of GS1’s Serialized Global Trade Item Number (SGTIN) (or “GTIN plus serial number”) for drug package identification would comply with it. The text of the FDA’s standard says as much.
By defining the SNI in this way did the FDA surrender the development of the real SNI standard to GS1 (at least the sNDC portion of it)? I don’t think so. In my essay about the SNI standard I described it as the FDA “aligning” with GS1’s SGTIN (see my essay “FDA Aligns with GS1 SGTIN For SNDC”). Alignment shouldn’t be confused with surrender. The choice of alignment with SGTIN was good for the FDA, good for patients and good for the industry.
WHAT WE GOT WHEN THE FDA ALIGNED THEIR SNI STANDARD WITH GS1’S SGTIN TECHNICAL STANDARD
In the case of the SNI aligning with GS1’s SGTIN we got the following things: Continue reading Should FDA Cede All Standards Development To GS1?
During the California Board of Pharmacy, Enforcement Subcommittee meeting on Wednesday the members voted unanimously to recommend to the full board the approval of a regulation that would require the use of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Standardized Numerical Identifier (SNI) as the unique identifier that is required on all drugs packages as part of their pedigree law. That law currently requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to apply unique identifiers to 50% of all their prescription drug packages by January 1, 2015 and the remainder by January 1, 2016.
The approved text reads as follows: Continue reading California Enforcement Subcommittee Moves To Require FDA SNI
The California pedigree law will have a surprising influence on how the pharmaceutical supply chain operates in another state. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, the law will change some things about the way the supply chain operates in all states. Prescription drug manufacturers who want to continue offering their products to patients within California after 2015-2016 must add unique serial numbers to each drug package and start an electronic drug pedigree.
California is the only state that requires both of those things but most manufacturers are forced to treat the California state law as if it applies nationwide. That’s because most drug manufacturers sell through distributors in the United States and so they have no way of knowing which drug package will end up being shipped into California and which ones will not. Voila! Pharma manufacturers end up having to serialize and create a pedigree for every single package that enters the U.S. supply chain.
This almost certain outcome will likely affect the full nationwide supply chain in a couple of interesting ways.
AFTER 2015: ALL DRUGS IN THE U.S. SUPPLY CHAIN ARE SERIALIZED AND PEDIGREED BY THE MANUFACTURER
That will be a big change, even outside of California. Here are some of the things I think we will see happen: Continue reading The Surprise Consequence of the California Pedigree Law
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
In an essay published in April, I explained my theory that “RFID is DEAD…at Unit-level in Pharma”, which, if true, would mean that most drugs in the U.S. supply chain would be serialized by manufacturers with 2D barcodes by 2015 for California. In my last essay, “Inference in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain”, I carried that theory one step further by showing how the widespread reliance on 2D barcodes to serialize at the unit level would lead directly to the widespread use of the practice of inference in the supply chain. This would be out of necessity since the unit-level serial numbers would not be readable without opening their containers, something that can’t happen because it is so inefficient that it would cripple the supply chain. So let me say it this way, the widespread use of 2D barcodes for unit-level serialization will necessitate the widespread reliance on inference. The former leads to the latter just like excessive sunshine leads to sunburn.
But the projections of widespread reliance on inference lead directly to a new concern. Let me explain. Successful use of inference for determining the contents of cases is totally dependent on the accuracy of the aggregation information established and provided by the manufacturer, or whoever packed them. If a packer uses a casepacking process that is incapable of yielding highly accurate aggregation information, inference will not work well.
This is a problem. A big problem, because Continue reading Will The Pharma Supply Chain Be Able To Use Inference? Maybe Not!