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Track-and-trace, serialized-product pilot demonstrates supply chain interoperability
At the Healthcare Distribution Management Assn.’s annual distribution conference (Tampa, FL, March 3-6), the winner of the association’s annual award was revealed to be Global Healthcare Exchange, LLC (GHX), based on a pilot project it conducted, with industry partners, over the past year-and-a-half. That pilot involved serialized product manufactured at AbbVie (at the time, Abbott), delivered to a McKesson distribution center, and then sent to the Veterans Health Administration Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy, a multisite operation that serves veterans’ pharmacy needs nationally. Confirming details of the transfers were collected and stored by GHX’s traceability platform, a cloud-based data repository which operates under GS1 standards for product identification (GTIN, the Global trade Item Number) and event documentation (EPCIS, the EPC Information System).
Transfers of product from manufacturer to wholesaler to dispenser occur every day of the week, of course, but what makes the GHX pilot notable is that it is a fairly rigorous demonstration of track-and-trace data collection and storage, so that the pedigree of a given shipment can be confirmed by trading partners. Event data was transmitted from the trading partners to a cloud-based repository run by GHX. This process demonstrates the viability of current technology to meet California’s upcoming e-pedigree regulation, set to begin going into effect in 2015. The pilot was used to test operational concepts for data aggregation, authentication, and product recall. (However, the HDMA statement is careful not to imply end-to-end compatibility with the California standards, which are still in the process of being finalized).
Besides the pilot participants, other GHX industry partners who have supported the GHX platform development include AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems.
GHX has been operating a similar collaborative capability for many years in the medical-surgical device market, primarily to collect and transmit product orders from healthcare providers to their suppliers. The company has a standing invitation for other pharma supply chain participants to join into the serialization effort. But while a growing number of manufacturers are implementing serialization processes on their packaging lines, relatively few have been developing tests and methods for sharing supply chain data—something that GHX hopes to change in the near future, says Margot Drees, executive director at the company.