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What is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

Today’s question: What is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

We’ve written extensively about the legislation, which was passed on November 27, 2013. But with the deadline for full compliance quickly approaching, we thought a quick overview was in order. So let’s answer the question, What is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

What Is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

If you’re a pharmaceutical company — a manufacturer, wholesaler, dispenser, repackager, or third-party logistics provider — you must comply with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) if you want to do business in the United States.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the goal of the DSCSA is “to build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.” The Act “will enhance [the] FDA’s ability to help protect consumers from exposure to drugs that may be counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful” and “improve detection and removal of potentially dangerous drugs from the drug supply chain to protect U.S. consumers.”

The law has been rolled out in phases since it was passed nearly 10 years ago. Implementation culminates on November, 27, 2023, at which time the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain will be fully serialized.

Key requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act

The FDA puts DSCSA requirements into the following categories:

1. Product identification/serialization

A unique product identifier (PI), such as a bar code, must be placed on certain prescription drug packages.

2. Product tracing

Stakeholders must provide information about a drug and who handled it each time it’s sold. This includes transaction information (TI), a transaction statement (TS), and a transaction history (TH), collectively known as “T3” information. Read our “Dispensers and DSCSA 2023” white paper for more about T3 information.

3. Product verification

Stakeholders must establish systems and processes to verify PIs for certain prescription drugs packages. The Verification Router Service (VRS) enables a rapid, secure exchange of data to do this. See more about VRS below.

4. Detection and response + notification

Stakeholders must quarantine and promptly investigate suspect or illegitimate drugs. They must also notify the FDA and other interested parties when they find such drugs.

5. Licensing

Wholesalers must report their licensing status and contact information to the FDA. Third-party logistics providers must obtain a state or federal license.

Looking forward

The FDA has delayed the rollout of the DSCSA two times, giving the industry extra time to prepare. However, an FDA official recently said there will be no more delays. November 27, 2023, is a done deal.

In terms of what’s next, take a look at our “DSCSA 2023: The Future of Pharmaceutical Traceability in the United States” blog post. This gets into the granular details of the transformation that’s going to happen in 2023, but here are the basics of what to expect:

Serialization

Serialization relies on product identifiers (the “PIs” we mentioned above), which include serial numbers and expiration dates. For 2023, all transaction information (the “TI” we mentioned above) must include the PI. TI includes the following:

  • The product name
  • The product’s strength and dosage form
  • The product’s National Drug Code
  • The container size and number of containers
  • The lot number
  • The transaction date
  • The shipment date
  • The name and address of the businesses from which and to which ownership is being transferred
Authorized trading partners

Put simply, the DSCSA says that if you’re not an authorized trading partner (ATP), your access to the U.S. pharma supply chain will be severely restricted or denied altogether. All manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, third-party logistics providers, and dispensers and their trading partners must be ATPs. We did a deep dive on ATPs earlier this year; read our two-part series here.

Verifying drugs

The DSCSA’s saleable returns verification requirement stipulates that wholesalers must verify all returned drugs before they can be reintroduced to the supply chain. This is done by verifying a drug’s PI. A wholesaler must initiate a verification request to the drug’s manufacturer, then the manufacturer must provide a verification response within 24 hours. The Verification Router Service — the VRS — is what enables the rapid, secure exchange of data between these parties. Like everything else in the DSCSA, we’ve written extensively about the VRS. Our “DSCSA Saleable Returns Verification Requirement: Just the Facts” article is a good place to start.

Final thoughts

What is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act? The DSCSA makes pharma stakeholders responsible for securing the U.S. supply chain. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manufacturer, wholesaler, repackager, third-party logistics provider, or a dispenser — the law affects how you conduct business. Your compliance depends on making sure you can meet your responsibilities.

That’s where rfxcel comes in.

A fully serialized pharma supply chain is just two years away. It’s important to use this time to get your systems in place. We have almost 20 years of experience providing the pharmaceutical industry with leading regulatory and compliance software. So if you aren’t sure if you’re going to be ready for DSCSA 2023 and want to see a short demo of our solutions — or just want to know more about your responsibilities — contact us today. Our DSCSA experts will work directly with you to design a solution that meets your specific needs, no matter your role in the supply chain.

In the meantime, you can hear directly from our experts in our “Plan for DSCSA Readiness” webinar and our DSCSA 2023 webinar series. These are great resources to help you better understand the law.

Drug Supply Chain Security Act Pharmacy Responsibilities

Drug Supply Chain Security Act pharmacy responsibilities are complex. They can be confusing. But the clock is ticking to be ready for the November 27, 2023, deadline. Let’s do a quick recap for pharmacies.

What is the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

The U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act, enacted on November 27, 2013, establishes a system to track and trace prescription drugs in a fully serialized supply chain. It calls for end-to-end traceability and electronic interoperability to prevent counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful drugs from entering the U.S. supply chain.

So far, the DSCSA has mostly focused on lot-level traceability — exchanging information about every package of medication so stakeholders can see exactly where it has been. Enactment culminates in November 2023, with complete unit-level serialization of the U.S. drug supply chain. This means stakeholders will have to electronically track products at the individual package level.

Drug Supply Chain Security Act pharmacy responsibilities: definitions

Pharmacies are referred to as “dispensers” in the DSCSA. The legislation defines a dispenser as “a retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, a group of chain pharmacies under common ownership and control that do not act as a wholesale distributor, or any other person authorized by law to dispense or administer prescription drugs, and the affiliated warehouses or distribution centers of such entities under common ownership and control that do not act as a wholesale distributor.”

If you dispense only products to be used in animals, you are not a dispenser under the DSCSA.

How to comply with the DSCSA

As we said above, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act pharmacy responsibilities are complex. Let’s break them down into easy-to-understand pieces.

You must exchange “T3” information about every drug you buy and who handled it each time it changes ownership in the United States.

The DSCSA calls this “product tracing information.” It has three components, collectively called “T3” information:

  1. Transaction Information (TI) about a product (e.g., proprietary or established name or names and the strength and dosage form)
  2. Transaction History (TH), an electronic statement with the TI for every transaction going back to the manufacturer
  3. Transaction Statement (TS), which is an electronic statement confirming the entity transferring ownership.
You must receive, store, and provide product tracing documentation

You can accept prescription drugs only if they have proper T3 information, and you must store the T3 information for six years. You must also generate and provide all T3 information when you sell a prescription drug to a trading partner.

You can only do business with authorized trading partners (ATPs)

And speaking of trading partners, if you can’t confirm your they’re licensed or registered, you can’t do business with them. If they’re not authorized, their access to the U.S. pharma supply chain will be severely restricted or denied altogether. Read our in-depth ATP blog series for all the details.

You must investigate and properly handle suspect and illegitimate drugs

Suspect and illegitimate drugs include drugs that may be counterfeit, diverted, stolen, intentionally adulterated, or unfit for distribution — the problem the DSCSA was designed to eliminate. Pharmacies must quarantine and investigate these drugs to determine if they are fake. If you make this determination, the next step is to work with the manufacturer and take specific action to ensure the bad drug does not reach patients/consumers. You must also notify the FDA and your trading partners about the drug.

You must authenticate and verify drugs

This is what’s coming in 2023. You’ll have to be able to authenticate and verify all the medicines you buy before you can sell them. The fundamental requirement is that TI (transaction information) must include a product identifier (PI), which includes serial numbers and expiration dates. The Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) is likely to be the standard the industry will use to enable this exchange.

Final Thoughts

We’re writing this on November 24, 2021. Yes, it’s the day before Thanksgiving. (Happy Thanksgiving!) It’s also almost exactly two years from the DSCSA implementation deadline. That may seem like a long time, but …

It is definitely not a long time. There’s a lot to do to ensure you’ll comply with your Drug Supply Chain Security Act pharmacy responsibilities. If you aren’t sure you’ll be ready, contact us to schedule a short demo of our DSCSA solutions. Our team of supply chain experts will design a solution to ensure you meet all DSCSA requirements and remain compliant forever.

And if you’re looking for something to read over the Thanksgiving holiday, download our “Dispensers and DSCSA 2023” white paper. It drills down into what we talked about today and is a great reference tool to have on hand as you prepare for the full serialization of the U.S. pharma supply chain.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What Are the Two Parts of the Drug Quality and Security Act?

The Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) was enacted on November 27, 2013, to address gaps and oversights in the way compound medications — medications that are customized by combining, mixing, or altering two or more drugs to meet the needs of a specific patient — are prepared and distributed. It was a response to the inadvertent distribution of contaminated steroidal injections that killed 64 people and caused infections in 793 patients.

The DQSA comprises two pieces of legislation: The Compounding Quality Act and the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). Here’s a quick overview of each.

DQSA Part 1: The Compounding Quality Act

The goal of the Compounding Quality Act is to make compounded medicines safer for patients.  It established a registration system for pharmaceutical industry stakeholders that create sterile drugs (e.g., manufacturers and pharmacies). It also reinstated Section 503A of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), parts of which the Supreme Court in 2002 ruled unconstitutional.

Companies can register as an official outsourcing facility if they meet a specific set of criteria. Outsourcing facilities are usually larger companies that supply compounds to healthcare facilities such as pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics. The key requirements for outsourcing facilities under the Compounding Quality Act include the following:

  • They must report adverse events to the FDA twice a year.
  • They must submit reports about all compounded medications to the FDA twice a year
  • They must meet product labeling requirements.
  • They must agree to FDA inspections (according to a “risk-based schedule” and pay fees for any re-inspections.
  • They must pay a registration fee to the FDA.

Outsourcing facilities are also subject to increased quality standards and can be penalized for certain actions, including intentionally falsifying prescriptions for compounded medicines, failing to report adverse events or compounded medications to the FDA, making false claims about compounded medicines (i.e., false advertising), and selling medications with “not for resale” warnings.

All this said, it’s important to note that the FDA does not approve compounded drugs. The Agency does not verify their safety or effectiveness. Furthermore, compounded drugs do not have an FDA finding of manufacturing quality before they are marketed.

DQSA Part 2: The Drug Supply Chain Security Act

The DSCSA is a wide-ranging piece of legislation designed to prevent counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful drugs from entering the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain. It affects virtually every industry stakeholder, from manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to repackagers, logistics providers, and dispensers (i.e., pharmacies). It is

Enacted in November 2013 and culminating with the November 2023 deadline, the ultimate goal of the DSCSA is a fully serialized pharmaceutical supply chain with full electronic operability. There are four core requirements:

  1. Product serialization
  2. Product tracing
  3. Verification (of product identifiers)
  4. Authorized trading partners

If you follow our blog, you know we’ve been writing about the DSCSA for years. For a longer summary, check out “Countdown to DSCSA 2023 Serialization: The Deadline Is Two Years Away.” For an in-depth look at what’s in store for 2023, read “DSCSA 2023: The Future of Pharmaceutical Traceability in the USA.”

Final thoughts

rfxcel has been the leading provider of regulatory and compliance software for the pharmaceutical industry for almost 20 years. We’ve also been a thought leader on the DQSA and DSCSA compliance. Our goal is to keep all stakeholders informed and work with them to ensure they’re ready to meet all the requirements in 2023.

Below are a few of our most recent resources to help bring you up to speed. Take a look, and if you have any questions or want to see a short demo of our DQSA and DSCSA solutions, contact us today. Our supply chain experts know the legislation inside and out and will work with you to design a solution that’s right for you.

Countdown to DSCSA 2023 Serialization: The Deadline Is Just Two Years Away

November 27, 2023 — the date the pharmaceutical industry has had its sights on since the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) was enacted eight years ago. With only two years until the deadline, we thought it was a good time to recap what’s in store for DSCSA 2023 serialization.

The DSCSA Timeline

As our timeline shows, November 27, 2023, will be 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.” In other words, DSCSA 2023 serialization.

DSCSA 2023 Serialization Timeline

DSCSA 2023 serialization: recent developments

No more delays. On August 9, 2021, the FDA signaled that the DSCSA 2023 deadline for interoperability would not change. Leigh Verbois, the director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Security, Integrity, and Response, made the comments during a webinar hosted by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA).

Draft and final guidance on product identifiers (PIs) and more. On June 3, 2021, the FDA published “new guidance to further enhance the security of prescription drugs in the U.S. supply chain.” Guidance was released for PIs, suspect and illegitimate products, and enhanced drug distribution security.

Full serialization

For DSCSA 2023 serialization, transaction information (TI) must include the PI, which includes serial numbers and expiration dates. The Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) appears to be the standard the industry will use to enable this exchange. Right now, TI and transaction statements (TS) are being electronically exchanged at the lot level, which is usually done with an advance ship notice (ASN). The transition from ASN to EPCIS is a cornerstone of DSCSA 2023 serialization.

Authorized trading partners

Under the DSCSA, authorized trading partners (ATPs) may engage in transactions only with other ATPs. In other words, all manufacturers, wholesale distributors, repackagers, 3PLs, and dispensers and their trading partners must be ATPs. If they’re not authorized, their access to the U.S. pharma supply chain will be severely restricted or denied altogether. Read our in-depth ATP blog series here.

Verification Router Service (VRS)

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. A wholesaler must initiate a verification request (to a manufacturer) to verify the returned products, and the manufacturer must provide a verification response within 24 hours. The VRS enables the rapid, secure exchange of data between these parties. Get more details here.

Final thoughts

We have been talking about and reporting on the DSCSA Day 1. We’ve been active in industry initiatives, particularly the VRS and the Open Credentialing Initiative (OCI) to meet ATP requirements. We’re ensuring the Ohio Department of Veterans Affairs is DSCSA-compliant. And we’ll soon be announcing another exciting initiative in the move toward full serialization of the U.S. pharma supply chain. Keep an eye out for that.

This year, we hosted a “Plan for DSCSA Readiness” webinar in March and a DSCSA 2023 webinar series in June that covered ATPs, EPCIS, and the VRS. We also published a “Dispensers and DSCSA 2023” white paper in May.

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

Take another look at our DSCSA timeline. A lot has happened since 2013 — and the pace will only intensify over the next two years. Contact us today if you need to know more. Our supply chain and DSCSA experts are here to help and make sure you’re ready for 2023

 

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 #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: 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.