NCPA Offers Recommendations for Better Securing Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

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Alexandria, Va. - September 14, 2011

The National Community Pharmacists Association's (NCPA) today provided several proposals in comments submitted to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing "Securing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain."

"NCPA believes that the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain is safe and secure," said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "However, there are a number of different tactics or approaches that could provide further assurances of integrity including efforts to combat pharmaceutical cargo theft and the implementation of national, uniform federal license standards for drug wholesalers."

Hoey added, "Another approach that has been discussed is the implementation of a track and trace system for prescription drugs. Although NCPA continues to feel that track and trace technologies remain largely unproven and such a system may prove to be prohibitively expensive for independent community pharmacies, we have identified a number of essential elements that should be considered as any proposed track and trace system is developed."

NCPA's comments had the following recommendations for the federal government:

  • Any track and trace system should have a risk-based approach to determine the scope of which products will be targeted at the outset of the program, such as controlled substances and frequently counterfeited products.
  • Federal grants designed to incentivize adapting of any track and trace program should include smaller participants in the supply chain such as independent community pharmacies that otherwise would be unduly financially burdened.
  • There should be interoperability between the various systems for any track and trace program to pave the way for easier communications between various manufacturers and distributors.
  • An authentication consensus should emerge about the definition and timing of when products will be verified, along with what will happen should the verification standard not be meet at any step in the process.
  • Independent community pharmacists should be allowed to use inference—a process that would allow them to scan or verify prescription drugs in larger batches instead of bottle by bottle.
  • Pilot projects should be pursued to ensure the best track and trace system is implemented after initial round of test cases are explored.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at

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