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Pharmaceutical Companies Taking Steps to Comply with New Regulations

Written by on Monday, May 19th, 2008

Pharmaceutical companies are currently ramping up their preparations to comply with new regulatatory requirements enacted to fight drug counterfeiting, according to a recent article by Mass High Tech.

Mass High Tech reported on the new regulatory requirements as follows:

[T]he federal government and nearly half of the states have enacted or proposed legislation to protect patient safety. The most far-reaching mandate is California’s electronic pedigree (e-pedigree) law. It requires electronic serialized product pedigrees for all prescription drugs at the item level (i.e., each salable item has a unique identity or serial number) and a secure chain of custody for all transactions involving that drug, starting with the pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Serialized product e-pedigrees enable the tracking and tracing of prescription drugs as they move through the supply chain to prevent counterfeit and diverted drugs from entering and remaining in the legitimate supply chain.

California recently provided the industry with additional time for full compliance, extending the implementation deadline to Jan. 1, 2011.

According to Mass High Tech, compliance with these regulations is a time-consuming and very complex process, which will require that companies comply with the new legislation more than a year prior to the implementation deadline, in order to meet the deadline at all.

The complexities of the implementation process were in fact what prompted the extension of the California deadline, according to a statement issued by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (“PhRMA”) Senior Vice President Ken Johnson Johnson wrote as follows:

Clearly, more time was needed for effective implementation of the e-pedigree law. And now there’s an extension of two years, which allows a longer period for a number of things to happen. For example, the makers of blood products — such as those that treat hemophilia — have two additional years to test the effects of radio-frequency identification (RFID) on the treatments. And they have more time to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to provide guidance on how companies should test to determine whether heat generated by the RFID system affects either the safety or effectiveness of blood products.

What’s more, researchers will have more time to address the technology compatibility problem that confronts those trying to implement the law. The fact is, the technology exists to track medicines, but we do not have one standard electronic serialization system everyone can use to monitor medications throughout the pharmaceutical supply chain. In addition, there’s now more time for state and local government agencies in California to resolve the budget crises they face. Organizations like the California Department of Corrections, state mental hospitals, California State University campus clinics and University of California hospitals must purchase many different expensive technologies to be in compliance with the law. And accomplishing that goal by January 1 would have been a daunting task.

In case you missed the passing of the California legislation, a summary of the text and background to the California legislation has been posted for review.

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