UPS urges Congress to back US healthcare traceability system

UPS has urged lawmakers and regulators to continue working towards a unified nationwide supply chain network for medicines in the United States. The shipping giant said yesterday that a healthcare bill sent to the White House for the President’s signature by Congress yesterday left out a key proposal to align the nation’s medicine supply chain.

At the moment, delivery companies face a “patchwork” of different state regulations and varying license requirements in handling medicines around the country.

But UPS said the Prescription Drug User Fees Authorization Bill did not include a “Track and Trace Proposal” that would have set up a national system to ensure safe passage of drugs and medicines across the US.

The Atlanta-based corporation said the proposal would have addressed the growing problem of counterfeit drugs through reforming the complex network of manufacturers, wholesalers, third party logistics providers and pharmacies.

UPS, a member of the Pharmaceutical Distribution Security Alliance (PDSA) that had been pushing for the reforms, applauded Congress for passing the bill, which it did say would ensure the Food and Drug Administration had the necessary resources to review new treatments.

However, regarding the Track and Trace Proposal, company spokesperson Kara Gerhardt Ross said: “We understand that the industry, the FDA, the Pew Charitable Trust and congressional leaders were close to agreement on the proposal and we urge them to continue work to get it done this session to provide a 50-state solution that protects US consumers.”

RxTEC

The PDSA, which also includes pharmacies and healthcare manufacturers like Walgreens, Pfizer, Merck, Bayer, Astraeneca and Johnson&Johnson as members, wants to set up a new electronic traceability system called the Pharmaceutical Traceability Enhancement Code (RxTEC).

It would provide new tools to trace pharmaceutical products, and help with recalls, setting out new electronic labelling rules. The proposals would also come with new powers to address counterfeit products and cargo theft.

At the moment, the inconsistent state laws mean added healthcare costs for consumers, the group says, claiming that pharmacies would face lower costs complying with a national electronic system than for complying with California’s rules alone.

A new RxTEC system would take six years to become fully operational, the PDSA said.

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