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DSCSA ATPs: Top Authorized Trading Partner Questions, Answered

What’s being discussed to ensure interoperability of different credentialing solutions for authorized trading partners (ATPs)? Is GS1 going to set standards for ATP credentialing solutions? If a solution provider supports DSCSA compliance and customers will aggregate serial numbers, why do users need to do anything else? 

These were the Top 3questions from “Authorized Trading Partners: The OCI Solution,the third and final presentation in the “DSCSA 2023” webinar series we hosted last month. rfxcel Global Executive Advisor Brian Files was hosting that day, and we share his answers below.

We also shared our answers to the top questions from the two other webinars, The Verification Router Service: Aligning to the Standardand ASN to EPCIS: Industry Change, Your Challenge.” There’s a lot of good information there, so be sure to check them out!

Our “DSCSA 2023” webinars were part of our ongoing efforts to keep the pharma industry updated about the DSCSA and help all stakeholders be ready for the full serialization of the U.S. pharma supply chain in November 2023. If you have other questions or want more details about DSCSA 2023, contact us today. You can also watch the webinars and download the presentation slides here.

What’s being discussed to ensure interoperability of different ATP credentialing solutions?

The same industry stakeholders are involved in developing the different solutions, whether it’s the Open Credentialing Initiative (OCI), .MED, or XATP. It’s important to have systems that connect and exchange information. The HDA has been hosting meetings with the three ATP providers to determine how/if interoperability can be achieved. Great progress has been made in a short time but there are still many open issues to be resolved as of mid-July 2021.

Is GS1 going to set standards for ATP credentialing solutions?

GS1 is not setting the standards; however, as part of the HDA effort to ensure interoperability, the teams are keeping GS1 updated on their efforts to ensure any GS1 specifications are updated/clarified as needed. For example, ATP will leverage the VRS messaging standards, which may need to be updated/clarified to include ATP.

If a solution provider supports DSCSA compliance and customers will aggregate serial numbers, why do users need to do anything else? 

For DSCSA 2023, the onus is on companies to ensure they’re getting their data in the proper format. Just having a DSCSA solution will not make you compliant. You have to go through your operational protocols and procedures and design your internal systems so they’ll be DSCSA-compliant.

Some companies have been working with solution providers since the early days of the DSCSA rollout, but have yet to optimize how their compliance software works with their internal systems, how they work with their provider, and, critically, how they communicate with their trading partners. Companies need to optimize internally to get the most out of their solutions — and to ensure compliance.

More DSCSA 2023 resources from rfxcel

DSCSA 2023: Top EPCIS Questions, Answered

When will companies start sending EPCIS? If a solution provider supports DSCSA compliance, why do users need to do anything other than ensure their products are aggregated? 

These were among the questions people asked at our second “DSCSA 2023” webinar last month, “ASN to EPCIS: Industry Change, Your Challenge.Herb Wong, rfxcel VP of Marketing and Strategic Initiatives, was the host, and we share his answers to the most-asked questions below.

Check back tomorrow, because we’ll be posting the top questions from the third and final webinar in the series, “Authorized Trading Partners: The OCI Solution.” You can also read our answers to the top questions from the first webinar, The Verification Router Service: Aligning to the Standard.

If you have other questions or want more details about DSCSA 2023, contact us today. Oh, and you can watch the entire “DSCSA 2023” webinar series and download the presentation slides here.

When will companies start sending EPCIS?

It has already started. However, the industry hasn’t achieved the volume it will need for 2023 (or right now, for that matter). There aren’t exact figures of the current volume of returns supply chain stakeholders (e.g., manufactures and wholesale distributors) are generating, but we do have anecdotal information from one of the Big 3 that they’re getting only about 10 percent. That data is a few months old, though, and that number could have increased. But overall, the industry needs to continue boosting the volume.

If a solution provider supports DSCSA compliance and industry (e.g., HDA) requirements, why do users need to do anything other than ensure their products are aggregated? 

A DSCSA solution should ensure you’re compliant and adhering to industry standards. But there’s more to it than that. For example, a solution provider needs permission from a manufacturer to send its serialized data; however, some manufacturers have chosen not to send this data, even though they have the means to do so. Right now, it’s important to be sending this data so solution providers can continue to work with the industry to ensure that all the data entering the system is clean and the VRS is working well.

So, it’s not that a solution provider can’t handle this for you. The issue is that providers need their customers to agree to send the information and communicate with their trading partners to make sure everyone’s on the same page. This needs to occur throughout the supply chain (e.g., as manufacturers send data to wholesale distributors and wholesale distributors send data to dispensers). Also, dispensers need to be able to receive the data. It’s all about communication and coordination.

What is the vision for the Center of Excellence? Will membership be open to everyone in the industry at no cost, or will membership be limited to certain organizations?

The current vision is that there will be no fees. The intention is to facilitate broader coordination among all participants to encourage data to flow through the system and to build an optimal method for resolving issues. As for membership, the reality is there has to be coordination with certain groups, because it will be difficult to succeed without some sort of organization to “rally around.” In all likelihood, the Center of Excellence will probably be coordinated through the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA). But even if you’re not an HDA member, that shouldn’t preclude you from participating.

What about transformation of events of inbound to outbound serial numbers for 2023 requirements?

Here, “transformation” means, for example, sending a pallet to a wholesale distributor who then “transforms” it by opening a case and sending individual products downstream (e.g., to a dispenser). The vision is to have each entity that transforms — unpacks and repacks — products to manage that process inside their own organization. The role of EPCIS is to handle the actual communication of every transformation. It’s important for the industry to understand and be able to verify every transformation event, and EPCIS is the tool that makes this possible.

In terms of repackaging, an example would be if a company puts different medicines (with different SKUs) together in a new configuration, or package, that meets a certain need (e.g., a combination of pills to treat a specific condition). In that process, the repackager must issue a new serial number that would have to be DSCSA-compliant in terms of EPCIS data flow.

These are the kinds of scenarios the industry needs to flesh out and be ready for by 2023.

More DSCSA 2023 resources from rfxcel

DSCSA VRS: Top Verification Router Service Questions, Answered

When do I need to implement the DSCSA VRS? Are there any new developments the industry should be aware of? What are some of the “sticking points” with the VRS today?

These were just a few of the questions asked during the first of three “DSCSA 2023” webinars that we held last month. In “The Verification Router Service: Aligning to the Standard,rfxcel VP of Marketing and Strategic Initiatives Herb Wong and Global Executive Advisor Brian Files answered these and other questions about the DSCSA VRS. Below, we give their answers to the most-asked questions.

Check back throughout the week, because we’ll be posting the top questions from the other two webinars in the series, “ASN to EPCIS: Industry Change, Your Challenge” and “Authorized Trading Partners: The OCI Solution.

The webinars were part of our ongoing efforts to keep pharma stakeholders up to date with the DSCSA and help the industry prepare for the full serialization of the U.S. pharma supply chain in November 2023. If you have other questions or want more details about DSCSA 2023, contact us today. You can also watch the webinars and download the presentation slides here.

When do I need to implement the DSCSA VRS?

Manufacturers and wholesalers/distributors should be implementing right now. VRS is a cornerstone of the DSCSA; it’s not going away. As you go through the 2020 to 2023 period, working with your partners is going to be critical. You should also be working with your solution provider — or finding one if you don’t already have one. Keep your eyes on the November 27, 2023, deadline and always be working toward it so you’ll be ready and compliant. Dispensers should be looking carefully at the benefits of VRS and requirements for validating saleable returns. (See response to next question.)

Are there any new developments the industry should be aware of?

VRS is the first interoperable system in the DSCSA. Error management and handling the complexities involved with the enormous volume of returned products contributed to its delay until 2023. (Read our articles about the FDA’s decision to delay enforcement of the DSCSA saleable returns requirement.) Downstream partners only add to the volume and complexity the VRS must handle in sub-second time. So, it will be important for the industry to determine exactly how the VRS will be used and what type of volume controls and error management it will have. You must also consider what type of outcomes your partners will need, as well as what you need for your own business model.

What are some of the “sticking points” with the VRS today?

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) collected feedback from the industry about optimizations/improvements it would like to see in the VRS network and presented its findings to solution providers on June 11, 2021. We’re now in the process of evaluating the feedback to determine next steps.

The “sticking points” fall into six categories, as shown in the graphic below. The most predominant concern is how to deal with data synchronization issues. The process for resolving all these issues needs to be streamlined among service providers.

Industry Feedback on DSCSA VRS

What’s the current implementation rate and use of VRS?

That depends on which part of the supply chain you are referring to. There is no accurate estimate of this across the industry, but based on our observations, this is what we’re seeing: Manufacturers and distributors have the highest “implementation rate.” Approximately 70-80 percent of our manufacturers can support VRS and 80-90 precent of wholesalers/distributors are VRS ready. The numbers further down the supply chain are lower, but are increasing quickly as dispensers become more aware of the benefits of VRS.

My wholesale distributor takes care of VRS for me. What is my responsibility? Am I covered if I were to be audited?

This is a little tricky, because there’s a lot of information circulating about what wholesale distributors will and will not do in the VRS ecosystem.

Wholesale distributors are doing a lot of heavy lifting with VRS, but they’re not completely responsible for your DSCSA transactions. They’re responsible for your information that’s being plugged into the VRS, but they are not responsible if there are any problems with a returned product.

The simple truth is that every stakeholder is responsible for their own DSCSA compliance. Your wholesale distributor should be there to help coordinate to the extent of the arrangement and partnership you have, but they are not responsible for your compliance. It’s not their job to “take care of VRS” for you. As we get into 2023, you’re going to need hardware, software, and system updates ready to go, and you can’t “pass the buck” for VRS to your wholesale distributor — or any other trading partner.

More DSCSA 2023 resources from rfxcel

rfxcel DSCSA 2023 Webinar Series: Sneak Peek #3

Our first DSCSA 2023 webinar is today, June 15, at noon Eastern Time! Registration is still open, so sign up now!

For the next three days, our Executive Global Advisor Brian Files, an expert on U.S. and international pharmaceutical compliance, will present key aspects of the DSCSA and answer your questions.

  1. TODAY, JUNE 15: The Verification Router Service: Aligning to the Standard
  2. Wednesday, June 16: ASN to EPCIS: Industry Change, Your Challenge
  3. Thursday, June 17: Authorized Trading Partners: The OCI Solution

We’ve already done sneak peeks about today’s Verification Router Service webinar and Thursday’s presentation about authorized trading partners. Here’s our last sneak peek about “ASN to EPCIS.” Enjoy! And remember to sign up for the series. All registrants can download the webinars starting next week.

What is the DSCSA?

The DSCSA went into effect on November 27, 2013. It calls for product tracing, product identifiers (PIs), authorized trading partners, and verification requirements for manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, and dispensers (pharmacies). Full serialization will begin on November 27, 2023.

DSCSA requirements for electronic data exchange

Trading partners must provide transaction information (TI) and a transaction statement (TS) to the subsequent owner of a product “prior to, or at the time of, each transaction.” This information must “be exchanged in a secure, interoperable, electronic manner in accordance with the standards established [through FDA guidance].”

In 2023, TI must include product identifiers (PIs), which include serial numbers and expiration dates. This is part of the full serialization of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.

The FDA puts a premium on these requirements, saying, “electronic, interoperable exchange of TI is … foundational to achieving electronic interoperable tracing and verification … .”

What is ASN?

An advanced shipping notice (ASN) tells what’s being shipped (e.g., number of items, shipment date, number of boxes, shipment weight, description of packaging) and how it’s being shipped (e.g., land, sea, air).

Why are people talking about ASN? Because it does not currently support DSCSA 2023 requirements for including PIs. What are the ramifications?

What is EPCIS?

The Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) is a global GS1 standard for exchanging Electronic Product Code (EPC) information and enables automatic communication and exchange of authenticated data.

Right now, it seems to be the pharma industry’s preference for meeting DSCSA requirements — but will it remain the frontrunner, or will another standard gain favor?

Final thoughts

Again, head over to our registration page so you can join Brian today, tomorrow, and Thursday. All the webinars begin at noon Eastern Time and will last up to 45 minutes (depending on how long our Q&A goes).

See you at the webinars!

DSCSA 2023 Webinar_June 15-17

 

rfxcel DSCSA 2023 Webinar Series: Sneak Peek #1

Full serialization of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain is coming in November 2023. That may seem like a long way off, but time flies and it will be here before you know it. To help make sure you’re working toward that deadline and doing everything you can to be prepared, we’re hosting the rfxcel DSCSA 2023 webinar series on June 15, 16, and 17.

Our Executive Global Advisor Brian Files, an expert on U.S. and international pharmaceutical compliance, will present three key aspects of the DSCSA and answer your questions. Sign up today!

  1. Tuesday, June 15: The Verification Router Service: Aligning to the Standard
  2. Wednesday, June 16: ASN to EPCIS: Industry Change, Your Challenge
  3. Thursday, June 17: Authorized Trading Partners: The OCI Solution

Here’s a sneak peek about the DSCSA Verification Router Service (VRS). Check back for more sneak peeks leading up to Brian’s other presentations in our rfxcel DSCSA 2023 webinar series!

What is the DSCSA?

The DSCSA went into effect on November 27, 2013. It calls for product tracing, product identifiers (PIs), authorized trading partners, and verification requirements for manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, and dispensers (pharmacies). As we said above, full serialization will begin in November 2023 (the 27th, to be exact).

What is the DSCSA saleable returns verification requirement?

Under the DSCSA saleable returns verification requirement, wholesalers must verify saleable returns before they can be reintroduced to the supply chain. This is done by verifying the drug’s PI, which comprises a Standardized Numerical Identifier (National Drug Code and a unique alphanumeric serial number), a lot ID, and an expiration date.

How does the DSCSA saleable returns requirement work?

A wholesaler must initiate a verification request (to a manufacturer) to verify the returned products. The manufacturer must provide a verification response within 24 hours. Wholesalers are called requestors and manufacturers are called responders.

The VRS and the DSCSA saleable returns verification requirement

The VRS enables the rapid, secure exchange of data between requestors and responders to meet the DSCSA saleable returns verification requirement. It’s an automated service that verifies if a PI is valid. A solution provider enables the verification requests to be routed between wholesalers and manufacturers.

Final thoughts

Be sure to join Brian on June 15 for “The Verification Router Service: Aligning to the Standard,” the first in our rfxcel DSCSA 2023 webinar series. Register today and submit your questions for Brian. You can also contact us to talk with one of our supply chain experts and see how our award-winning rfxcel Traceability System can ensure you comply with the saleable returns verification requirement and other key DSCSA requirements.

See you on June 15!

DSCSA 2023 Webinar_June 15-17

DSCSA 2023: The Future of Pharmaceutical Traceability in the United States

Welcome to the third and final installment of our DSCSA 2023 series. The first two parts talked about DSCSA authorized trading partners — manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, third-party logistics providers, and dispensers. If you’re not a DSCSA authorized trading partner, it will be difficult to do business in the United States, so be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Today, we’re focusing on the day we’ve all been preparing for: November 27, 2023, the 10th anniversary of the DSCSA. Per Section 582(g)(1) of the DSCSA (Title II of the Drug Quality and Security Act):

“On the date that is 10 years after the date of enactment of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act … interoperable, electronic tracing of product at the package level requirements shall go into effect.”

So, in a little more than 2 years and 8 months from now, the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain will be fully serialized. Let’s take a closer look at what this means for the pharma industry and its authorized trading partners.

A quick clarification

This blog post looks at “the letter of the law” — the language in Section 582(g)(1) that lays out six requirements for DSCSA 2023.

For its part, the pharma industry has tended to see the DSCSA as having four pillars, as illustrated below. These pillars encompass the six requirements we’re talking about today.

DSCSA 2023 Four Pillars

Our own Herb Wong, VP of marketing and strategic initiatives, recently hosted a webinar about DSCSA 2023 readiness that included an overview of the four pillars. It’s a great follow-up to what you’ll read below and a valuable resource for every pharma supply chain stakeholder. If you missed it or want to watch it again, Herb’s webinar is here.

DSCSA 2023: six key requirements

To date, the DSCSA has focused on lot-level traceability, or exchanging information about every package of medication so supply chain stakeholders can see exactly where each has been. DSCSA 2023 is all about complete unit-level serialization through the use of product identifiers, meaning stakeholders will have to electronically track products at the individual package level. Here are the six requirements for DSCSA 2023 laid out in Section 582(g)(1):

  1. Authorized trading partners must exchange transaction information (TI) and a transaction statement (TS) in a secure, interoperable, electronic manner.

TI includes the product name; its strength and dosage form; its National Drug Code; container size and number of containers; lot number; transaction date; shipment date; and the name and address of the businesses from which and to which ownership is being transferred. The TS is an attestation by the business transferring ownership of the product that it has complied with the DSCSA.

Trading partners must maintain all transaction data for 6 years.

The law requires the standards for interoperable exchange of TI to “comply with a form and format developed by a widely recognized international standards development organization.” Right now, EPCIS 4 (Electronic Product Code Information Services) is the only standard that meets this requirement; however, the industry is investigating alternatives.

  1. TI must include the product identifier (PI) at the package level for each package included in the transaction.

The upshot of this requirement is unit-level traceability (i.e., serialization). A PI is a standardized graphic that contains the product’s standardized numerical identifier (SNI), a lot number, and an expiration date. The SNI comprises two data points: the National Drug Code and a unique alphanumeric serial number. PIs must be human- and machine-readable.

  1. Authorized trading partners must have systems and processes to verify products at the package level, including the SNI.

According to the definition in Section 581 of the DSCSA, “verification” or “verify” means determining if the PI “affixed to, or imprinted upon, a package or homogeneous case corresponds to the SNI or lot number and expiration assigned to the product by the manufacturer or the repackager.”

  1. Authorized trading partners must have the systems and processes to promptly respond with the TI and TS for a product upon a request by the Secretary (or other appropriate federal or state official) in the event of a recall or for the purposes of investigating a suspect or illegitimate product.

The “Secretary” here is the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Suspect and illegitimate products include drugs that may be counterfeit, diverted, stolen, intentionally adulterated, or unfit for distribution.

This requirement dovetails with the FDA’s push for modernization of the U.S. food supply chain, including recall processes.

  1. Authorized trading partners must have the systems and processes necessary to promptly facilitate gathering the information necessary to produce the TI for each transaction going back to the manufacturer.

This requirement is similar to No. 4 in that authorized trading partners must provide this information to the FDA commissioner or other federal or state officials; however, goes a step further by adding trading partners. The law says these systems and processes

“shall be required in the event of a request by an authorized trading partner, in a secure manner that ensures the protection of confidential commercial information and trade secrets, for purposes of investigating a suspect product or assisting the Secretary (or other appropriate Federal or State official) with a request described in clause.”

  1. Each person accepting a saleable return must have systems and processes in place to allow acceptance the product(s). Furthermore, they may accept saleable returns only if they can associate the returned product(s) with its TI and TS.

This has to do with the DSCSA saleable returns verification requirement and the Verification Router Service (VRS). Supply chain stakeholders must verify saleable returns before they can be reintroduced to the supply chain; they do this by verifying the drug’s PI. The VRS is the system they use to rapidly verify PIs.

rfxcel is the industry leader in the VRS. We led an FDA-approved pilot to extend testing of the VRS and continue to focus on making it ready for DSCSA 2023. Here a few of our resources to answer any questions you may have:

Final thoughts

As we said in Part 1, we’ve been covering the DSCSA for a long, long time. We’ve done webinars, written white papers, and been active in industry initiatives, particularly the VRS and the Open Credentialing Initiative (OCI) to meet the requirements for DSCSA authorized trading partners.

We’ve also been helping pharma companies comply with the DSCSA and other pharma regulations around the world. From our rfxcel Serialization Processing and Compliance Management solutions to the full-scale power of our rfxcel Traceability System, we ensure compliance no matter your role in the supply chain.

So contact us with your questions about DSCSA 2023 or the DSCSA in general. Our supply chain experts can give you a short demonstration of our solutions, share their insights and knowledge, and work with you to ensure you’re compliant today, tomorrow — always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSCSA 2023: Understanding DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our discussion about DSCSA authorized trading partners. The 10-year rollout of the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act — the DSCSA — is scheduled to conclude on November 27, 2023, so now’s a good time to take stock of where we are and what to expect over the coming months.

As we said in Part 1, everybody’s talking about DSCSA authorized trading partners — manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and dispensers. From now until November 2023, it’s really all about ensuring these supply chain actors are ready to comply with the regulations.

Remember, under the DSCSA, authorized trading partners may engage in transactions only with other authorized trading partners. In other words, if you’re not a DSCSA authorized trading partner, your access to the U.S. pharma supply chain will be severely restricted or denied altogether.

Below, we finish our discussion of DSCSA authorized trading partners by defining who qualifies as a repackager, a 3PL, and a dispenser.

Repackagers

Repackagers own or operate an establishment that repacks and relabels a product or package for further sale or distribution without a further transaction.

Generally, dispensers (specifically pharmacies) are not considered repackagers. By this definition, a dispenser/pharmacy only packs and labels a product for dispensation to a person who has a valid prescription for that product; they do not do “bulk” repackaging.

Repackagers are considered trading partners if they accept or transfer direct ownership of a product from or to a manufacturer, another repackager, a wholesale distributor, or a dispenser. To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, repackagers, like manufacturers, must be registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in accordance with Section 510 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act), “§360. Registration of producers of drugs or devices.”

3PLs

The DSCSA defines a 3PL as an “entity that provides or coordinates warehousing or other logistics services with regard to a product in interstate commerce on behalf of a manufacturer, wholesale distributor, or dispenser of a product, but does not take ownership of the product, nor have responsibility to direct the sale or disposition of the product.”

3PLs are considered trading partners if they accept or transfer direct possession of a product from or to a manufacturer, repackager, wholesale distributor, or dispenser. Returns processors and reverse logistics providers are considered 3PLs. There are two reasons for this:

  1. They provide other logistics services for other trading partners in a facility they own, rent, or lease.
  2. They do not take ownership of the product and do not direct the sale or disposition of the product.

Generally, brokers, solution providers, common carriers, and logistics or administrative services contractors are not considered 3PLs because they don’t provide or coordinate warehousing and don’t accept or transfer direct possession of the product. These stakeholders do not have to be licensed.

To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, 3PLs must have a valid license under state law or FD&C Act Section 584(a)(1), “National Standards for Third-Party Logistics Providers,” in accordance with Section 582(a)(7), “Requirements, Third-party logistics provider licenses”, as amended by the DSCSA and in compliance with reporting requirements under Section 584(b).

Dispensers

To be considered a dispenser, you must meet one of three criteria:

  1. You’re a retail pharmacy, a hospital pharmacy, or a group of chain pharmacies under common ownership and control that do not act as a wholesale distributor.
  2. You’re a person legally authorized to dispense or administer prescription drugs.
  3. You’re an affiliated warehouse or distribution center of a dispenser under common ownership and control that does not act as a wholesale distributor.

A dispenser is considered a trading partner if they accept or transfer direct possession of a product from or to a manufacturer, repackager, wholesale distributor, or another dispenser. To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, a dispenser must have a valid state license.

Generally, veterinarians are not considered dispensers, per FD&C Act Section 512(a)(5).

Final thoughts

The table below summarizes everything we’ve laid out above and in Part 1 of our DSCSA authorized trading partners series. It’s adapted from an August 2017 FDA publication.

As you’re reading, remember that all of our stakeholders are considered to be trading partners if they accept or transfer direct ownership of a product from or to a manufacturer, repackager, wholesale distributor, or dispenser. To be an DSCSA authorized trading partner, however, they must meet the criteria explained in the table.

There’s one last installment of our “DSCSA 2023” series coming soon. In it, we’ll talk about the key requirements for 2023 and the future of traceability in the pharma supply chain. While you’re waiting for that, take a moment to check out our webinars, white papers, pharmaceutical compliance solutions, and other resources about the DSCSA. If you feel inspired, contact us to schedule a demo to see our solutions in action.

DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners

DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners

DSCSA 2023: Understanding DSCSA Authorized Trading Partners, Part 1

The Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), enacted in 2013, was envisioned as a 10-year plan to secure the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain through enhanced track and trace systems and processes. Milestones have come and gone, 2023 isn’t that far off, and now everybody is talking about DSCSA authorized trading partners.

Why are DSCSA authorized trading partners on everyone’s mind? It’s because these supply chain stakeholders — manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and dispensers — are pivotal to the regulatory rollout, which is scheduled to conclude on November 27, 2023. From here on out, the focus will be getting DSCSA authorized trading partners ready to comply with the regulations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has clarified the definitions of and guidance for DSCSA authorized trading partners, but we want to distill that further into an easy-to-understand explanation. In Part 1 of our “DSCSA 2023” series, we’ll take a look at manufacturers and wholesalers; Part 2 will talk about repackagers, 3PLs, and dispensers. In Part 3, we’ll break down the specific requirements for 2023.

DSCSA authorized trading partners: an overview

Under the DSCSA, authorized trading partners may engage in transactions only with other authorized trading partners. In other words, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, 3PLs, and dispensers and their trading partners must all be authorized trading partners. If you are not a DSCSA authorized trading partner, your access to the U.S. pharma supply chain will be severely restricted or denied altogether.

Below, we explain how the DSCSA defines manufacturers and wholesale distributors.

Manufacturers

To be considered a manufacturer, you must meet one of three criteria:

  1. You manufactured the product.
  2. You’re an approved application holder or a co-licensed partner of the approved application holder; if the latter, you must have obtained the product directly from the application holder or entity that manufactured the product.
  3. You’re an affiliate of the manufacturer and obtained the product directly from the application holder or entity that manufactured the product.

A manufacturer is considered a trading partner if it accepts or transfers direct ownership of a product from or to another manufacturer, a repackager, a wholesale distributor, or a dispenser. As defined in 1-3 above, a manufacturer is a DSCSA authorized trading partner if it:

  1. Is registered with the FDA in accordance with Section 510 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, Ҥ360. Registration of producers of drugs or devices
  2. Is compliant with Section 510 of the FD&C Act
  3. Is compliant with Section 510 of the FD&C Act

Wholesale distributors

To be considered a wholesale distributor, you must distribute a drug to a person other than a consumer or patient.

A wholesale distributor is considered a trading partner if it accepts or transfers direct ownership of a product from or to another wholesale distributor, a manufacturer, a repackager, or a dispenser. To be a DSCSA authorized trading partner, a wholesale distributor must have a valid license under state law or FD&C Act Section 583, “National Standards for Prescription Drug Wholesale Distributors,” in accordance with Section 582(a)(6), “Wholesale distributor licenses,” as amended by the DSCSA and in compliance with reporting requirements under Section 503(e), “Licensing and reporting requirements for wholesale distributors.”

Of note: manufacturers that distribute their own drugs are not required to meet licensure requirements for wholesale distributors. In fact, the FDA excluded several other entities from the definition:

  • A manufacturer’s co-licensed partner
  • A 3PL
  • A repackager
  • Entities excluded from “wholesale distribution” pursuant to Section 503(e)(4) — a dispenser, a dispenser-affiliated warehouse or distribution center, or a dispenser who transfers product to another dispenser for a specific patient need

However, “jobbers” are considered wholesale distributors. The FDA defines jobbers as those who do wholesale distribution on a small scale or sell products only to retailers and institutions. Dispensers that transfer product to another dispenser without a specific patient need are also jobbers — which means they’re also considered wholesale distributors.

Final thoughts

If you follow our blog, you know we’ve been covering the DSCSA for a long, long time. We’ve hosted webinars, including the recent “Plan for DSCSA Readiness,” written white papers , and been active in industry initiatives, particularly the Verification Router Service (VRS), for which we led an FDA-approved pilot to extend testing of the system, and the Open Credentialing Initiative (OCI) to meet the requirements for DSCSA authorized trading partners.

So check back soon for Part 2 of our “DSCSA 2023” series, which will discuss repackagers, 3PLs, and dispensers. In the meantime, contact us if you have questions about the DSCSA. Our supply chain experts will be happy to speak with you and demonstrate how our solutions have made us the leader in pharmaceutical compliance.

What Does It Mean to Be a CRPT Partner in Russia’s Supply Chain?

The Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT) operates Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System. Known as Chestny ZNAK, the supply chain system was established by Federal Law No. 425-FZ, signed on December 29, 2017. rfxcel has been prepared for these regulations since 2018, and is now an established CRPT partner.

Let’s take a look at what it means to be a CRPT partner, including the benefits it brings to our customers.

What is the CRPT?

The CRPT is a public-private partnership akin to the European Medicines Verification Organization. Its many responsibilities include generating the serial numbers and verification codes (i.e., crypto codes) required by Chestny ZNAK.

Business giant USM is the CRPT’s principal partner, with a 51 percent stake. USM was founded in 2012 and has interests in many of Russia’s key sectors, including metals/mining, telecom, technology, and internet. According to USM, Chestny ZNAK is the country’s first public-private partnership in the IT sector and the first of its kind at the federal level. Private investments totaling more than 200 billion rubles ($2.5 billion) are expected over the next 15 years.

rfxcel as CRPT partner

Last year, rfxcel earned official CRPT partner status in 10 of the 11 industries for which the organization has chosen partners: medications, footwear, tires, light industry, perfumes, dairy, bottled drinking water, bicycles, wheelchairs, and tobacco. Furthermore, we are the only official CRPT partner for several of these industries.

To be named a CRPT partner, a solutions provider must prove it can work with Chestny ZNAK, comply with its strict serialization requirements, and support companies that do business in Russia.

For example, to be named an official integration, software, and tested solution partner for medications, members of our Moscow team met with the CRPT to demonstrate the rfxcel Traceability System, answer technical questions, and share examples of compliance reports. After an internal evaluation, the CRPT notified rfxcel that it had validated its solution and designated the company as an official partner on its website.

What does being a CRPT partner mean for our customers?

The benefits we bring as a CRPT partner are pretty straightforward. First and foremost, we have proven that our signature rfxcel Traceability System integrates seamlessly with Chestny ZNAK and meets regulatory requirements for key industries.

Russian law calls for serialization, aggregation, unit- and batch-level traceability, crypto codes, and electronic reporting and records management. Our rfxcel Serialization Processing and Compliance Management solutions ensure you’ll comply with these mandated labeling and reporting requirements. Plus, our solutions have a Russian-language user interface that makes integration and start-up much quicker.

The other benefit of being a CRPT partner is that we’re trusted. The CRPT knows our solutions, knows our team in Moscow, and knows that we take compliance very seriously. They know our customers include major pharmaceutical and consumer goods brands. They know we’re committed to making the transformation of Russia’s supply chain smooth and effective, and support the mission “to guarantee the authenticity and declared quality of goods being purchased by customers.”

So, when you work with rfxcel in Russia, you’re working with a CRPT partner that is equipped to deliver quick integration and compliance today, tomorrow — always.

Sneak peek: another recent rfxcel accomplishment in Russia

We’ll share more details about this soon, but earlier this month we received accreditation as an IT company from Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media. The Ministry develops and implements national policy and legal regulations for a range of industries, from telecommunications to Internet governance.

That’s all we’ll say for now. The official IT company accreditation is another reason why we continue to be the leader in Chestny ZNAK integration, operability, and compliance.

Final thoughts

We are proud of being an official CRPT partner. It’s proof that our software ensures companies in any industry will remain compliant while they do business in Russia.

Contact us today for more information about how we can help you succeed with Chestny ZNAK. And be sure to download our white paper about Russian compliance. Fully updated for 2021, including information about new pilots for beer and beer-based drinks and biologically active food additives , it’s an easy-to-understand guide to Russia’s strict supply chain regulations for every industry.

What Does the EU COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan Look Like?

The EU announced its COVID-19 vaccine strategy on June 17, 2020. Among other things, it called for ensuring the quality, safety, and efficacy of vaccines, securing quick access to vaccines, and ensuring equitable access to an affordable vaccine as early as possible. It also called for adapting the EU’s regulatory framework and taking advantage of regulatory flexibility to address the urgent need.

Let’s take a look at what the EU has said about its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and answer some frequently asked questions about its vaccine administration.

What vaccines are being used in the EU?

The European Commission says it wants to “build a diversified portfolio of vaccines based on different technologies, to increase the chances that one or more of the vaccine candidates are approved by EMA.”

The EU authorized the BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on December 21, 2020, and the Moderna vaccine on January 6, 2021. It did this after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) assessed their safety, quality, and efficacy.

On January 8, the Commission reported that it had concluded contracts for 600 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine and 160 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine. It also reported securing contracts for millions of doses from AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Johnson and Johnson, and CureVac, and that it had concluded “exploratory talks” with Novavax and Valneva.

Then, on January 29, the Commission announced that AstraZeneca agreed to publish the redacted contract it signed on August 27, 2020, and that CureVac agreed to publish the Advance Purchase Agreement with the EU.

The Commission says it has secured more than 2.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, adding that if all the vaccine candidates are found to be safe and effective, EU Member States could donate part of their doses to lower- and middle-income countries.

Who will receive the vaccine and when?

As of January 8, the EU said that all Member States would have access to COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, based on the size of their population. On January 29, the Commission enacted a measure requiring Member States to authorize vaccine exports, stating this will “ensure timely access to COVID-19 vaccines for all EU citizens and … tackle the current lack of transparency of vaccine exports outside the EU.”

The Commission says the number of doses will be limited during the initial stages the immunization effort and before production can be ramped up. As in other countries, authorities have said that there will not be enough doses to vaccinate everybody right away; it will take time.

Most members have defined who will get the vaccine first and are further refining sub-groups to assign priority. Frontline healthcare professionals and people over 80 years old top the lists. For more insight about the rollout, see this December 2020 report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control about preparedness in the EU, the European Economic Area, and the UK. The Centre also has a useful “Situation Update” page that tracks the pandemic in the EU.

Vaccine supplies will increase over time, the Commission says, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated during 2021. It predicts that at least 80 percent of people over the age of 80 and 80 percent of health and social care professionals should be vaccinated by March 2021. By this summer, the Commission says 70 percent of the EU’s adult population should be vaccinated. These projections, however, are probably optimistic, as the rollout has been slow and fewer doses than expected have been delivered.

Final thoughts

As we said in our blog post about COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the United States, the world is in an “all hands on deck” situation. We like to think we’ve been part of the effort since the pandemic began.

In April 2020, we joined the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, offering our Accurate Immunization Management (AIM) and rfxcel Integrated Monitoring (rIM) solutions. rIM is a real-time environmental monitoring solution that uses Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices to monitor products while they’re in transit; it’s a powerful, ideal solution for the pharma cold chain, which is vital to vaccine distribution.

AIM ensures that the right person gets the right vaccine at the right time. It can track COVID-19 vaccines — indeed, any vaccine — in any supply chain, monitor inventory, and facilitate safe, timely delivery to any location. We designed AIM to be fast, flexible, and compliant in any country. At a time when the world is depending on supply chains to function at peak performance, AIM is a tool to help get vaccines properly delivered and dispensed.

Furthermore, our signature rfxcel Traceability System has proven itself in the pharma supply chain, helping ensure products are safe and legitimate and that consumers know exactly what they’re getting. Contact us today to learn more our solutions and how we can help you secure your supply chain, no matter what industry you’re in or where you do business.