Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Drug Companies Need to Improve Their Screening for Quality and Counterfeits

By: Alan Clock, Senior Vice President, XStream Systems, Inc.

Recent massive recalls on generic drugs imported from overseas contract manufacturers are making significant reverberations within the pharmaceutical industry and making the case for more stringent screening of drugs both in finished form and in raw materials.

Manufacturers in the past have seemingly been immune to this level of public scrutiny because it has often been perceived that their products are at their most pristine at the point of manufacture however with the continued proliferation of contract manufacture of product and raw material sourcing from companies located in lesser developed countries the need for more robust screening from point of manufacture through the supply chain seems obvious.

These global recalls are not just happening to the smaller generic companies that contract their manufacturing overseas but also the generic divisions of big Pharma companies are feeling the sting of substandard product within their brand.

Although the liability to the stakeholders of these impacted companies is great, the impact and consequence to the consumers of these inferior medications should remain paramount. For those in the know within the pharmaceutical supply chain, the message and actions seem clear.

XStream Systems supports the concept of screening products throughout the pharmaceutical supply chain from raw materials, to the point of manufacture, packaging, throughout the supply chain and finally at the point of dispensing to the patient.

The level of screening required is important as well, realize that all of the poor quality recently recalled product in question were passed or would have been passed on to the consumer through the process of pedigree, serialization, bar codes and RFID tags.

End-to-end screening does not have to be costly, overly time consuming or onerous to the various members of the supply chain. Current technologies exist to rapidly screen raw materials at the point of production while XStream’s XT250 has a robust solution of analytical testing of products within the sealed container in the supply chain. At the point of dispense there are a variety of technologies available currently which test for product quality and medication errors before they reach the consumer. We at XStream believe that the most effective way of protecting the product is to employ a variety of solutions at each link of the supply chain.

As the world continues to move to a global economy and the pieces of the pharmaceutical supply chain scatter beyond borders a watchful eye towards quality and security are in the interest to all of those who either make a business of or consume pharmaceuticals.

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