On Feb. 7 the U.S. Food and Drug launching a new pilot project in which participants representing the drug supply chain (e.g., manufacturers, repackagers and other stakeholders) can pilot the use of innovative and emerging approaches for enhanced tracing and verification of prescription drugs in the U.S.
The goal of the program is to ensure suspect and illegitimate products do not enter the supply chain.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to protect our nation’s drug supply, today, we’re giving industry an opportunity to test new technologies that can help spur greater accountability for participants in the supply chain and improve our ability to trace prescription drugs at every point in the distribution chain,” says FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
“Using new innovations, we believe we can improve the overall security of our closed system and improve our ability to prevent the introduction of illegitimate products, better detect the introduction of illegitimate products, and enable stakeholders and the FDA to respond more rapidly when such products are found,” adds Gottlieb “We recognize that tracking and tracing products is critical to the industry’s ability to detect and remove potentially dangerous drugs from the drug supply chain. This pilot is one of many steps we’re taking to foster innovative ways to improve the security of the drug supply. We’re also focused on making improvements across the other products we regulate, especially related to food and our ability to address foodborne outbreaks.
Gottlieb also says the FDA would explore new ways to improve traceability, in some cases using the same technologies that can enhance drug supply chain security, like the use of blockchain.
The pilot will inform the development of the enhanced electronic, interoperable track-and-trace system for industry set to go into effect in 2023 as part of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. This new program will pilot technologies that may become part of the FDA’s enhanced expectations for reliable track-and-trace systems.
The new system will be aimed at reducing diversion of drugs distributed domestically and will help keep counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain, and ultimately, reaching patients.
For the drug track-and-trace system, the agency said its goals are to fully secure electronic product tracing, which provides a step-by-step account of where a drug product has been located and who has handled it; establish a more robust product verification to ensure that a drug product is legitimate and unaltered; and to make sure that any party involved in handling drugs in the supply chain must have the ability to spot and quarantine and investigate any suspect drug.
The DSCSA pilot project program is intended to help identify and evaluate the most efficient processes to comply with and apply drug supply chain security requirements. DSCSA was enacted by Congress on Nov. 27, 2013. It outlines steps to build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.
The program will aid in identifying attributes the system will need for enhanced product tracing and verification, as well as electronic means to share the information.
The FDA has previously taken steps to advance the development and adoption of technologies that can help identify and properly trace prescription drugs as they move through the supply chain. For example, the FDA recently issued draft guidance on the use of product identifiers with a unique serial number to improve verification down to the package level. Additionally, the FDA has provided draft guidance for verification systems to quarantine and investigate suspect and illegitimate drugs. Enhanced verification and tracing in the supply chain can translate to a more rapid response by industry and the FDA when an illegitimate product is found.