FDA Task Force Report Recommends e-Pedigree in Distribution and Addresses RFID Issues

by Daniel R. Matlis

In a long awaited move, the FDA announced on Friday June 9th, that it will fully implement regulations related to the Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987, which requires drug distributors to provide documentation of the chain of custody of drug products — “pedigree” — throughout the distribution system.

Consistent with recommendations from the FDA Counterfeit Drug Task Force, the agency also announced that its enforcement of the pedigree regulations will focus on products most susceptible to counterfeiting and diversion.

FDA also announced the availability of a Draft Compliance Policy Guide for public comment describing this enforcement approach. By providing guidance on the types of drugs that are currently of greatest concern to FDA, the agency intends to give wholesale distributors a better idea on where and how to focus their initial energies to come into complete compliance with the regulations (21 CFR Part 203) for all the prescription drugs they distribute.

Additional subjects discussed in the Task Force’s report include the following key issues related to electronic track-and-trace that are in need of resolution:
 

  • Technical aspects of the mass serialization of marketed drugs by assigning a unique identifier or serial number to each drug package as the initial step in development of track and trace technology.
  • Importance of a nationwide universal drug pedigree with uniform information in preference to state laws imposing different pedigree requirements.
  • Protection of consumer privacy to prevent unauthorized disclosure of information stored in RFID tags when RFID-tagged drug products are dispensed to consumers.
  • Consumer education about RFID and the labeling of RFID-tagged drug products, to disclose to consumers when they are receiving RFID-tagged products and to inform consumers of the benefits of RFID technology and how consumers’ privacy is being protected.

The FDA has been busy providing guidance and direction on these important topics, now its time for the industry to move implementation into high gear.