19 February 2004 20:09 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--A major US drug distributor group called Thursday for the use of advanced drug tracking technology and tougher state licensing requirements to root out counterfeit drugs and illicit operators.
The Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), whose membership represents a vast majority of the wholesale distribution market, is encouraging "widespread adoption" of radio frequency identification tags by 2007 as recommended yesterday by a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) counterfeit drugs task force.
HDMA spokeswoman Amanda Forster told CNI today that HDMA also is working with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which represents state regulators, to adopt uniform and consistent licensing standards and inspection regimes from state to state.
"Our concern is that an unscrupulous wholesaler will shop around to do business in states with the weakest regulations," Forster said.
Forster acknowledged that producers and wholesale distributors are concerned about the costs of implementing the FDA plan for high-tech drug tracing technology. HDMA is conducting a cost feasibility study due out in June, she said, but many in the industry believe high initial costs will rapidly drop as more producers and distributors use the technology in its packaging and labelling.
HDMA, based in Reston, Virginia, said in a recent statement that the organisation "is solidly committed" to the technology, and is developing business standards for its implementation.
Concerns exist about whether expensive technology is feasible for smaller niche distributors, Forster said, or whether all pharmacies will be willing to switch from traditional bar codes to a potentially more complicated technology.
"We’re taking the same approach as the FDA in that we’re very strongly encouraging [the technology]," she said. "But there is a question of whether it makes sense for all companies."
Forster said the organisation doesn’t intend to include these changes in membership requirements, but she said: "New membership applicants will be scrutinised much more closely before they are considered an active member."
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