Regulators Plan New "Electronic Pedigree" to Track Drug Packages

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A new high-tech system for trackingprescription drug packages with radiosignals moved a step closer towardimplementation with the establishmentof a blue-ribbon task force ofpharmacists, regulators, and informationtechnology experts responsible forcreating standards for a nationwide Rx"electronic pedigree."

The group was formed by theNational Association of Boards of Pharmacy(NABP) in an effort to forge uniformsoftware standards for the use ofRadio Frequency Identification (RFID)technology to create an electronic"chain of custody record" or "pedigree"for each package of drugs distributedby manufacturers and wholesalersto pharmacies.

According to NABP officials, electronicpedigrees, able to track and tracea drug product from the time it leavesa drug manufacturer until it is dispensedto a patient by a pharmacist,could become a reality nationwidewithin the next few years.

In addition to curbing diversionand assisting in recalls, such an electronicRx-tracking system would alsoprovide state pharmacy boards with avaluable new enforcement tool, NABPofficials said.

FDA officials consider RFID technologyone of the best means to improvethe security of the nation's drug supply,and lawmakers in California andFlorida have already passed legislationto either allow or require e-pedigreesfor intrastate shipments of pharmaceuticalproducts.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.