FDA Releases DSCSA Draft Guidance on Standardization of Data and Documentation Practices for Product Tracing

March 12, 2018By Karla L. Palmer

As stated in our post last week, on February 28, 2018, Commissioner Gottlieb announced FDA’s release of a draft guidance document addressing certain requirements under the 2013 Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) concerning standardization of data and documentation practices for product tracing. The purpose of the draft is to help trading partners “understand” data elements that they should include as part of product tracing information, and details when partners are permitted to omit certain data that otherwise would be required. The draft guidance also recommends documentation practices that trading partners can use to satisfy product tracing requirements set forth in the DSCSA, FDCA Section 582. FDA notes that “product tracing requirements” mean the exchange of product tracing information between trading partners, including transaction information, transaction history and the transaction statement (TH/TI/TS). The guidance also intends to help trading partners in “standardizing” the information captured, maintained and provided to subsequent purchasers or those that request it.  What is a tad interesting about the draft guidance is its timing: Trading partners have been providing TH/TI/TS pursuant to the DSCSA for quite a while now, as required by the statute. The draft guidance helpfully walks through elements of TH/TI/TS for those entities that are required to provide such information under FDCA Section 582 (i.e., manufacturers, wholesaler distributors, repackagers, and dispensers). Each is addressed below:

Manufacturers: To the extent that there are business relationships that involve multiple manufacturers (application holder, co-licensed partner, affiliates) those entities should document by written agreement which of those entities will be carrying out the activities required by manufacturers under Section 582(b) (manufacturer requirements).

Dispensers: The draft describes various recommendations for dispensers including when there are “dispenser to dispenser sales to meet a specific need.” In that case, dispensers are not required to provide tracing information if the product is sold from one dispenser to another dispenser to “fulfil a specific patient need” (i.e., a sale from one pharmacy to another for dispensing to an individually identified patient). Such sales do need to be appropriately documented in the event there is an investigation concerning a recall, or notification of a suspect or illegitimate product. Licensed health care practitioners that may prescribe or administer medications under state law, or those under their supervision, are exempted from product tracing requirements, as described in the guidance. (Draft Guidance at 5). FDA also provides that dispensers may enter into third party agreements so that tracing information may be maintained by that third party. Notwithstanding use of third party agreements for the maintenance of product tracing information, such agreements do not relieve dispensers from their statutory obligations under 582 (i.e., among others, notification and reporting requirements).

The rest of the Draft Guidance addresses the Agency’s thoughts on standardization of product tracing data. Although the elements of what should be included are generally set forth in the DSCSA (and are being exchanged between trading partners), the Draft Guidance walks through in more detail (than FDA’s initial guidance issued in November 2014 [here]) what information should be included in TI/TH/TS.

Standardizing the Transaction Information (TI)

The DSCSA sets forth ten elements that should be included in TI. The Draft Guidance provides detail on these elements, and describes when certain detail may be omitted. Some but not all additional details on data elements include:

  • Proprietary or established name of the product. The name should not be truncated, unless space limitations make it necessary to do so. FDA also provides instructions on products with multiple APIs, and names or abbreviations that the Institute for Safe Medications Practices (ISMP) has identified as being misinterpreted on prone to medication errors.
  • Strength and dosage form. This information should remain consistent from one trading partner to the next in each transaction involving the product. FDA details the unit of measure, symbols and abbreviations that should be used.
  • National drug code.  FDA advises that manufactures and repackagers that are creating the first TI for the product that they are introducing into commerce should use their respective NDC number. Subsequent partners should use the same NDC and the same configuration that is on the TI received from the product’s previous owner. Repackagers “should provide the NDC number that they have assigned to the repackaged product.”
  • Container size. This should reflect the configuration of the “individual saleable unit, and not a larger shipping size of a “box, case, or tote.”
  • Number of containers. FDA says that this should be the quantity of individual saleable units of a product of the same lot number that is included in a transaction.
  • Lot number. The manufacturer should use the lot number it assigns to identify a batch or portion thereof that has “uniform character and quality within specified limits.”   If a repackager assigns a new lot number, it should use that number in the TI it provides to subsequent trading partners. If more than one lot number is used, then each should be reflected in the TI provided to the subsequent purchaser.
  • Date of transaction. FDA considers this to be the date on which ownership of the product involved in the transaction transferred between trading partners. It may be a contract date or a shipment date, depending on the transaction.
  • Date of shipment if more than 24 hours after date of transaction. The date should reflect the date shipped.
  • Business name and address of the person from whom ownership is being transferred. FDA “recommends using the address of the facility from which the product is being shipped as the business address of the trading partner that is transferring ownership of the product,” although it states that this is a business decision between partners. If product is shipped from a third party logistics provider facility, the partner should still use the address of the entity from which ownership is being transferred.
  • Business name and address of the person to whom ownership is being transferred. FDA’s recommendation concerning use of the appropriate business name and address is the same for the receiver of the product as it is for the sender (above). Use the address of the facility to whom the product is being shipped.

Standardizing the Transaction History (TH)

FDA’s guidance document also sets forth the Agency’s recommendations for standardization of the product’s transaction history as it passes between trading partners. The transaction history should be a compilation “of the transaction information for each prior transaction involving that product.” FDA outlines the two ways in which trading partners may provide TH, how it should be organized, and what does and does not need to be included in that TH. (Draft Guidance at 11).

Standardizing the Transaction Statement (TS)  

FDA’s Draft Guidance sets forth the statutory definition of “transaction statement” and all of its requisite elements indicating compliance with the DSCSA. In addition, the Draft Guidance discusses the “direct purchase statement” that may be included with certain products. If a distributor purchases a product directly from the manufacturer, exclusive distributor of the manufacturer, or a repackager that purchased directly from the manufacturer, then the direct purchase statement must be included. The Draft Guidance sets forth at page 13 the statement that FDA recommends that such partners use.   FDA notes that this will help partners understand why TH may not include certain transaction information back to the manufacturer.  FDA is also recommending the passing of such statements when a wholesaler purchases the product from another wholesaler that directly purchased the product from a manufacturer or repackager. (Draft Guidance at 13).

Documentation Practices

Finally, the Draft discusses various documentation practices for subsequent transactions where the statute permits certain transactions to omit certain elements of TH/TI/TS. These transactions include direct purchases by a wholesaler, drop shipments to a dispenser, and transactions involving grandfathered products. Those entities that participate in such transactions should focus on FDA’s draft detailed recommendations for documentation involving such transactions at pages 14-18 of the Draft Guidance.

Got questions or comments? Please submit them to Docket No. FDA-2018-D-0688, by May 1, 2018.