Digital Platform Designed to Bring Visibility to Drug Supply Chain

July 27, 2023
Pulse by NABP expected to address need for compliance with the United States Drug Supply Chain Security Act

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has worked with IBM Consulting to develop Pulse by NABP, a digital platform intended to bring visibility to the drug supply chain and help protect patients from counterfeit or substandard prescription medications.

Expected to launch later in summer 2023, the platform is designed to facilitate manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies, and regulators to identify counterfeit or substandard prescription medications and connect with each other when required; provide authorized partners with capabilities to help them accurately trace prescription medications throughout the supply chain; and give patients more confidence that their prescriptions are legitimate.

NABP said Pulse can help users improve patient safety by assisting them in identifying the threats created due to the ever-increasing complexity of the supply chain, including falsified, substandard, or counterfeit drugs and “grey market” companies. 

Pulse is expected to address the industry need for compliance with the United States Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which must be fully implemented in November 2023.

NABP and IBM Consulting are incorporating solutions into the platform that will address gaps in interoperability identified during workshops and pilots conducted with stakeholders from across the supply chain. For example, trading partners are currently required to participate in “systems of systems” that are often fragmented and focused on single-solution providers. When launched, Pulse is intended to serve as a single, voluntary directory for trading partners.

Through this independent platform, authorized trading partners will also have access to product tracing tools, be able to determine the legitimacy of trace requests, and communicate in a mode suited to their needs.  

NABP began working on the network for the Pulse platform in fall 2021 after stakeholders from across the industry requested assistance identifying and addressing gaps in interoperability among all sectors and state regulators. The platform has been informed by collaborative input from all sectors of the supply chain, including 12 state boards of pharmacy, 22 solution providers, and over 40 trading partners (consisting of large and small dispensers, wholesalers, and manufacturers). Pilot participants included AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Genentech, Johnson and Johnson, McKesson, Pfizer, Rite Aid, Sanofi, Walgreens, and other leading organizations.

“Patients need to be able to trust the safety of the drugs they’re prescribed,” said NABP Executive Director/Secretary Lemrey “Al” Carter, PharmD, M.S., R.Ph., in a statement. “We’re excited to launch Pulse by NABP because we believe it can significantly improve the safety and transparency of the drug supply chain in the US, benefiting patients as well as regulators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and dispensers. We selected IBM Consulting as our implementation partner because they have the deep business and product strategy, technology, and industry expertise to help us build and maintain a digital platform that’s secure, user friendly, and can integrate seamlessly with participating organizations’ IT architectures.”