DSCSA Compliance – Who should be Concerned with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

Christophe Devins Written by Christophe Devins

Even though the deadline for DSCSA compliance is only 6 months away, there is still some uncertainty as to who exactly will be concerned when by its requirements.

Different deadlines for different supply chain partners

As the name Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) implies, all parties of the drug supply chain will eventually have to be compliant with drug serialization and traceability or reporting requirements. But how and when am I concerned you may ask? In a previous article, we have broken the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s program down into more digestable pieces to help you see clearer about the when.

Everybody dealing with subscription drugs will need to be DSCSA compliant

By now it is clear that pharmaceutical companies as marketing authorization holders (MAHs) as well as contract manufacturers (CMOs) and drug packaging companies will need to be serialization-ready by November this year. Other supply chain partners like repackagers (2018), distributors (2019) and dispensers (2020) will have to follow suit to ensure all serialization, traceability and reporting requirements set out by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) are met by 2023.

Even not-for-profits concerned by DSCSA requirements

A lesser-known fact is that even not-for-profit organizations operating under US law that dispense medication free of charge, like disaster-relief or other charities, will have to comply with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act and meet the DSCSA deadlines. Imposing costly compliance investment or time-consuming reporting requirements on organizations that often struggle to raise enough funds to be operational might at first sight seem counterproductive to their charitable cause. However, we need to remember the reasons behind legislations like the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, the Falsified Medicines Directive, the Saudi Drug Code, and others: protecting patients by fighting counterfeits. So it only makes sense to extend DSCSA requirements to those organizations taking care of the most vulnerable who rely on the safety of the medicines they are given.

DSCSA – Exceptions

However, in some cases, “the US Food and Drug Administration does make exceptions regarding the provision of tracing information in order to not jeopardize life-saving emergency treatments. Indeed, an FDA Guidance Document detailing “Requirements for Transactions with First Responders” states that the FDA will not take action against dispensers who provide drugs “in small quantities or on a periodic basis” for example to nongovernmental fire/rescue and ambulance services and who “may lack the resources to provide product tracing information”.

Christophe Devins
Christophe Devins

In 2007, with more than 25 years of proven experience in coding and traceability, Christophe created Adents to design the most powerful and visionary software solutions for unit identification and traceability. Christophe Devins was actively involved in Gencod, which has since become the established GS1, and was one of the key architects of the global standards for barcodes. Today, he is CEO of Adents and a recognized expert in product identification and traceability, regularly approached by international institutions for discussions around product identification standards and traceability issues.


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