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Agnes Shanley is senior editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.
The author discusses the results from TraceLink and Actionable Research's Global Drug Supply, Safety and Traceability Report.
In December 2016, TraceLink and the market research firm Actionable Research released results of the first Global Drug Supply, Safety and Traceability Report (1). The study surveyed 331 professionals from pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies, and hospital pharmacies, to better understand issues and compliance trends at the lot level to get a more realistic picture of gaps in readiness, and the challenges that face pharmaceutical companies, distributors, and dispensers of all sizes in realizing full product traceability.
Half of the pharmaceutical companies that responded to the survey expect to comply with electronic data transfer requirements within six months of the November 2017 deadline, and 54% describe themselves as well-prepared for serialization. However, 19% of companies say they have not begun to address requirement, and only 24% say that their contract manufacturing organization (CMO) partners will be ready.
Respondents from pharmaceutical companies said that they underestimated the complexity of implementation, the total cost of IT upgrades required, and the overall impact that implementation can have on business. Customers at the dispenser level complain that the documentation needed for compliance is often missing from products that they buy directly from manufacturers. In their dealings with drug distributors, dispensers fear that their electronic data, which are now accessible via distributor portals, may not be available if they change distributors.
The following highlights from the research emphasize the data integration challenges inherent in serialization:
Roughly 37% of pharmaceutical companies bought a solution specifically designed to help with lot-level compliance, while 33% modified an existing third-party business system, 28% have implemented a manual process, and 20% have developed customized solutions.
Clearly, serialization challenges remain, but at least more companies “know that they don’t know,” and are networking and learning from their peers from pilot tests and implementations to figure out what to do next.
1. Systech, 2016 Global Drug Supply, Safety, and Traceability Report, tracelink.com, December 2016.
Vol. 41, No. 3
When referring to this article, please cite it as A. Shanley, "Speed Bumps on the Road" sidebar to "Serialization Hits the Home Stretch," Pharmaceutical Technology 41 (3) p.78, 2017.