Tag Archives: POD

DSCSA: Congress Should Have Mandated Randomization

iStock_000015967853SmallerCongress should have mandated randomization of drug serial numbers, but they did not, so it is up to each manufacturer to recognize the importance it would bring to the protection of their brands and of the supply chain.  Let me explain.

The text of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) was developed last year by Congressional staff in consultation/negotiation with various lobbying organizations—primarily the Prescription Drug Security Alliance (PDSA).  The effect of the legislation is to create a way of protecting the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain that relies primarily on product identifier authentication (PIA) (see “Product Identifier Authentication” and “The Aggregation Hoax and PIA”) for at least the first 10 years and possibly beyond. Continue reading DSCSA: Congress Should Have Mandated Randomization

Product Identifier Authentication (PIA)

iStock_000015985566SmallerIn my last essay I touched on the use of Product Identifier Authentication, or PIA, as an alternative to the collection and distribution of aggregation data to allow wholesale distributors and repackagers to meet the verification requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA).  Starting in November of 2018 for repackagers and in November of 2019 for wholesalers, the DSCSA will require these companies to verify that the standardized numerical identifier (SNI)—commonly referred to as “the serial number”—corresponds with one that the manufacturer originally applied to drugs that are found to be suspect, and for any returned drug that will be resold.

As I pointed out in my previous essay (see “The Aggregation Hoax and PIA”), manufacturers and repackagers may be able to choose to pass on aggregation information that would allow wholesale distributors to meet their requirements, or they might choose to offer a PIA service that would allow these companies to check the authenticity of one or more SNIs via a web service. Continue reading Product Identifier Authentication (PIA)

InBrief: Pharma Supply Chain Criminals Get Justice

Two weeks ago, confessed pharma supply chain criminal William Rodriguez of South Florida was sentenced to 10 years of prison time, and then two years of supervised release.  He was also required to hand over $55 million, which represents the proceeds from his crimes.

What was his crime?  He was the person who ran the licensed wholesale drug distribution company formerly in South Carolina, Ocean Pharmed, that bought the Novo Nordisk insulin that was stolen in a cargo theft back in 2009.  In his plea, Rodriguez admitted that all of the drugs that Ocean had sold into the supply chain had been obtained from unlicensed or otherwise illegitimate sources, like the stolen insulin.

This is the story that was so well documented by Katherine Eban in her excellent March 2011 article, “Drug Theft Goes Big” in Fortune Magazine online, and which I discussed in my essay “Lessons from ‘Drug Theft Goes Big’” and further Continue reading InBrief: Pharma Supply Chain Criminals Get Justice

The Serial Number Handling In Your WMS Probably Isn’t Sufficient For Pharma Serialization

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.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

How Counterfeit Avastin Penetrated the U.S. Supply Chain

Counterfeit Avastin

The internet lit up last week when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted an announcement that they are aware of counterfeit Avastin in the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain (see “Counterfeit Version of Avastin in U.S. Distribution” on the FDA website and Genentech’s announcement).

I found out about it when I received notice of Dr. Adam Fein’s (PhD) excellent blog posting “Greedy Physicians Invite Fake Avastin Into the Supply Chain” on his DrugChannels.net blog, but multiple national news agencies picked the story up and many articles were written about it.  Most simply reflected the contents in the FDA’s announcement.

But at least one news source seemed to do some additional investigating.  Bill Berkrot and John Acher of Reuters published the excellent article “Fake Avastin’s path to U.S. traced to Egypt” on Thursday.  In the article they provide a little more background on the path the drugs allegedly took before apparently arriving on the shelves of U.S. physicians and potentially in the bodies of unsuspecting U.S. patients.

And Pharmaceutical Commerce Online reports that Avastin isn’t the only incident of recent counterfeit injectable cancer drugs making it into the U.S. market that the FDA is currently investigating.


Now keep in mind, this is only investigative journalism so far, and while the information source listed in the Reuters article is the Danish Medicines Agency, criminal investigators may already know more than this and in the end, some or all of the contents of the Reuters article may eventually be found to be untrue.  Whether ultimately true or not Continue reading How Counterfeit Avastin Penetrated the U.S. Supply Chain

Illegitimate Drugs In The U.S. Supply Chain: Needle In A Haystack

West-African countries have been under attack by drug counterfeiting criminals for decades with little resistance until the last one.  The result, in 2002 Mohammed Yaro Budah, then president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, estimated that 70% of the drugs in Nigeria were fake or substandard.  That’s an incredible figure, but starting around that time the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) under the direction of Professor Dora Akunyili began fighting back.

Initially they focused on inspecting drug imports at the Nigerian ports and airports and they were able to bring the percentage of fake or substandard drugs to come down considerably.  More recently they have begun employing a number of Raman Spectroscopy-based devices called TruScan (recently acquired by Thermo Scientific) to inspect drugs and anti-viral medicines being sold in pharmacies during “unscheduled” visits.

Even more recently, a number of pharma manufacturers have begun to add low cost scratch-off stickers to the drugs sold in Nigeria that cover a random number that can be scratched off and checked for authenticity by patients and healthcare professionals using SMS text message-based technology from Sproxil.  The service was launched in 2010 on a single product but that number is growing quickly as a number of large U.S.-based drug companies add the scratch-off stickers to their productsThe service is sponsored by NAFDAC.


That is, would these technologies help to reduce the number of illegitimate drugs in the U.S. supply chain? I believe that the answer is Continue reading Illegitimate Drugs In The U.S. Supply Chain: Needle In A Haystack

The Viability of Global Track & Trace Models

At the end of my last essay I said I had recently concluded that the jump to a fully automated pharma supply chain upstream visibility system is too big and complex to be achievable by every company in the U.S. supply chain by the California dates.  I want to explain that statement in a future essay (soon), but before I do I want to explore some of the track and trace models that are being considered by both GS1 and the FDA.  I particularly want to look at the viability of each model because I think we will find that some just aren’t (viable), and that will help narrow the search.

I’ll look at the three basic models that the FDA mentioned in their recent workshop:  Centralized, Semi-Centralized and Distributed (or Decentralized as the FDA called it).  There are others, but it seems that they can all be either based on, or reduced to, one of these three basic models.

In this essay I am looking at track & trace models from a global viewpoint, which is something that GS1 is doing but the FDA may not.  Attacks on the pharma supply chain are a global problem and global problems demand global solutions or gaps will be left for criminals to exploit.

GS1’s goal is to develop standards that apply globally as much as possible and the FDA will likely find that Continue reading The Viability of Global Track & Trace Models

Will The Pharma Supply Chain Be Able To Use Inference? Maybe Not!

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!