In case you missed it, section 913 is entitled “Assuring Pharmaceutical Safety.” See page 355 of H.R.3580 (424 pages) or simply print this handy-dandy 4-page extract.
Subsection (a) states: “The Secretary [of HHS] shall 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.”
Ah yes, just what the industry needs – more standards! Standards must be totally awesome because we have so many of them in the pharma industry.
In plain English, the Act requires the following:
- The development of a standard numerical identifier at the package or pallet level
- The identifier must link repackaged products back to the original product
- The standard must be developed within 30 months (September 2010?)
- The evaluation of “promising technologies,” including RFID, nanotechnology, encryption technologies, and “other track-and-trace or authentication technologies.”
- Interagency cooperation by FDA with Federal and State agencies
- “As a manufacturer, I am pleased with the 30 month timeframe to evaluate/develop a standardized numerical identifier. I also like the fact that it encourages some degree of harmonization with coding requirements outside the U.S.”
- “I don't know who drafts this language, but either (A) they intentionally include vagaries so that makes it impossible to execute, or (B) they don't really understand what their talking about. I think it is the latter.” (AJF: ROTFL!)
We are already dealing with California law, which requires a “unique identification number…that is uniformly used by manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies.” Pedigree in California must be at the “smallest package or immediate container,” but probably only for high-risk products. (See California Dreamin'.)
So, how will the new Federal ID number relate to the numbers developed in California? Or interact with the mysterious Rx SafeTrack initiative being pursued by HDMA, NACDS, PhRMA, and GPhA? Will this Act upsize the smallest package to a pallet because of the pesky "or" written into the legislation?
Brenda Kelly of SupplyScape, which is helping companies get ready for California’s January 2009 deadline, strikes an optimistic note: “This reinforces patient safety efforts like California’s. With two and a half years to define a standardized numerical identifier and consider a wide range of technologies, the Agency can benefit from the states’ initiatives.”
I certainly hope that Brenda is right. Since my web logs show many visitors from State and Federal agencies, anyone care to post some comments on the new Act for their benefit? (Yes, you can post anonymously, if you want.)