Patients often have many questions when they are prescribed a medication by their healthcare provider for the first time. What they typically do not need to worry about, however, is how their prescription medicine got to the pharmacy, whether anything happened to it along its journey, if it was handled with care or if it was potentially compromised by illegitimate products that may have entered the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Patients do not usually need to think about these things, because distributors work tirelessly to protect the security of the pharmaceutical supply chain, enabling the safe and efficient delivery of medicines to hundreds of thousands of licensed pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers across the country every day.
As an industry, distributors take this responsibility seriously and have numerous safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of prescription medicines and healthcare products, as well as their movement and storage. We employ security experts, partner with state and federal regulators and collaborate across the industry to share information and best practices.
A Personal Commitment to Safety
For distributors, the commitment to safety and security is more than just part of the job, it is a core part of who we are. Distributors employ highly trained security experts and safety professionals from a diverse array of backgrounds, including former law enforcement officers and military veterans, who all share a lifelong dedication to protecting others.
State-of-the-Art Distribution Centers
Security also is at the core of distributors’ operations. Distribution centers are designed from the ground up with safety and security top of mind. Each facility features sophisticated security and surveillance systems that are designed to monitor the products and how they are handled. For example, distributors employ state-of-the-art electronic access control systems; hire on-site security guards, in certain instances; as well as use closed-circuit television cameras for “around-the-clock” surveillance.
Trained staff monitor products throughout the distribution and storage process, ensuring that medicines are protected from theft and diversion and that counterfeit products do not enter the supply chain. Security standards are even higher for controlled substances, which are kept in secure, locked cages or vaults that must meet strict security and construction criteria.
Safe and Secure Transportation
Once prescription medicines and healthcare products leave the distribution center, distributors use sophisticated technology to monitor the entire transportation process.
Advanced shipment tracking technologies allow distributors to securely track every step of a medicine’s journey to the licensed pharmacy, hospital or other healthcare provider. Sophisticated monitoring systems are designed to alert distributors if there are any deviations during transportation. For example, if medications or healthcare products are found to be moving from a location before they are actually scheduled to be shipped, or a delivery vehicle diverges from an approved/designated route, the technology is designed to alert those responsible for the safety and security of the products.
Ultimately, the security of the pharmaceutical supply chain depends on partnerships between the healthcare industry, law enforcement and regulatory officials. The Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (founded in 2006 by industry veteran Chuck Forsaith) helps facilitate collaboration and discussion between these key stakeholders by providing opportunities for security and logistics professionals to share information, network with peers across industries and stay informed on major industry updates that increase risk management capabilities for all entities. By working together, the entire industry excels at preventing diversion and thwarting bad actors trying to disrupt the security of the supply chain.
The multiple layers of security and collaboration with our supply chain partners and law enforcement officials ensure that patients can trust the safety of their medicines. For more information about how pharmaceutical distributors harness innovation to protect patients and the supply chain, visit: www.HealthDelivered.org/Safety.
ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE DISTRIBUTION ALLIANCE
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s nonprofit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.