Maintaining Supply Chain Safety - A Timely Message from FFF Enterprises
Date: May 19, 2010
In the April 2010 issue of BioSupply Trends Quarterly (BSTQ), one of the feature articles -Shoring Up Supply Chain Safety-turns out to be focused on a very timely topic. At the very moment magazines were reaching subscribers, organized thieves were staging a Hollywood-style heist by scaling a wall and breaking into a pharmaceutical warehouse in Hartford, Connecticut. They got away with over $70 million in antidepressants and other prescription drugs. And according to Freight Watch International, a security firm that tracks cargo theft, there have been more than a dozen other major pharmaceutical thefts this year in the U.S. The question is: Where does this medication end up?
In the United States, the most common destination for stolen drugs is South Florida where they are often shipped to Latin America, or sometimes Asia, eventually ending up on the black market. There have also been reports of product being repackaged and reintroduced into the U.S. market and making their way to patients through healthcare providers, while some popular items are sold directly in the U.S. through unscrupulous online retailers.
As the nation’s largest and most trusted distributor of plasma products, vaccines and critical-care biopharmaceuticals, and the publisher of BSTQ, FFF Enterprises is known as a leading voice when it comes to setting the standard for supply chain safety. Founded on the guiding principle of purchasing product only from manufacturers and shipping to only authorized healthcare providers, the company has implemented best practices designed to put patient safety first, outlined in its “The Eight Critical Steps to Guaranteed Channel Integrity.” The eight steps in FFFs safety protocol are increasingly becoming industry-recognized standards for moving biopharmaceutical products securely through the distribution channel. “Each of the eight steps is critical and dependent on the others, to make sure patient safety is not compromised,” says Patrick M. Schmidt, chief executive officer, FFF Enterprises, Inc. “It is our hope that these eight steps create a standard for safety that will continue to have a positive influence on the industry as a whole.”
Many supply chain problems are due to criminal counterfeit activity and theft – products being stolen from distributors and manufacturers and then resold in gray markets. But when it comes to patient safety, issues of storage, shipping and tracking also come into play. This is especially true for manufacturers and distributors of critical-care biopharmaceuticals, such as fragile plasma derivatives and other specialty biologicals. These life-sustaining products are easily compromised, and tainted products can pose a serious health threat to patients on the receiving end. Of course, most patients are unaware of the inherent risks of a compromised pharmaceutical supply chain unless it touches them personally. If FFF has any say in the matter, industry-wide measures are needed to secure the supply chain to protect patients from this threat.
“One of the driving values behind everything we do at FFF is that patients are always first,” Schmidt explains. “It is part of our culture to recognize that at the end of every transaction there’s a patient waiting for that product.”
To read more about Shoring Up Supply Chain Safety visit www.BSTQuarterly.com.