Much of the furious strategizing and implementation of the traceability requirements of the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) has been oriented around the needs of manufacturers and wholesalers, who are currently required to share data on shipments. Retail pharmacy and hospital pharmacy are also involved, but their mandates mostly have future deadlines.
Now, however, Forerunner Group, an IT firm that has experience in analytics around drug development is entering the fray, with a view toward structuring product movements at hospital pharmacies. As Dwight deVera, CEO, tells it, his company was approached by a major New York health system over a year ago for help in meeting future DSCSA requirements. A software package, branded as RXTransparent, was developed, and now he is finding his company in demand with other hospital pharmacy directors who have heard of the implementation. In mid-October, Premier Inc., a leading hospital GPO, approved RXTransparent for use by its member hospitals for tracking drug movements.
DeVera says that RXTransparent is not a full-blown pharmacy inventory control system (which only some health systems have), but one that can store data for when pharmaceuticals leave the hospital pharmacy. This occurs mostly as drugs are repackaged for individual patients, or for prescriptions filled by compounding within the hospital pharmacy. It can also occur with the informal trading that goes on when neighboring hospitals share inventory to cover temporary shortages or, in the case of urban health systems, when drugs are transferred from the hospital pharmacy to the vans used by emergency medical technicians. The system is cloud-based, and a mobile-device-friendly interface is being developed.
While deVera claims “exponential” growth—the company has just moved into larger offices in King of Prussia, PA—and exclusivity as the “first end-to-end drug supply chain compliance solution,” the reality is that other health systems are already engaged with the leading IT firms that have been laboring in the DSCSA trenches for years. At a customer event put on in mid-October by TraceLink, for example, the company showcased presentations from Carolinas HealthCare System (which has 40 hospitals in three states, 14 retail pharmacies and other drug-dispensing facilities), United Drug Supply, a North Carolina distributor that services military healthcare sites, and UMass Memorial Healthcare, with five hospitals and 11 pharmacy departments. Earlier this fall, TraceLink announced a deal with the Intalere GPO, representing some 90,000 healthcare sites. RfXcel, another longtime IT-traceability player, announced a purchasing agreement this summer with Premier, just as RXTransparent has.
Industry experts note that health systems seem to have a large appetite for digitizing their drug movements, to complement a similar trend with use of electronic health-record (EHR) systems. The American Soc. of Health-System Pharmacists has had a page on its website for several years updating its members on DSCSA-related developments. It could be that as pharma manufacturers and the major wholesalers grind through their DSCSA implementations over the next couple years, they will find themselves being pulled into faster project completion by their customers at the tail end of the supply chain.