IBM and NABP Partner to Create Digital Platform to Protect the Drug Supply Chain

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

Launching in late 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.

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 urgent and critical 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.

“Patients need to be able to trust the safety of the drugs they’re prescribed,” said NABP executive director/secretary Lemrey “Al” Carter, PharmD, MS, RPh. “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.”

The DSCSA includes the requirement to electronically track and make available prescription drugs’ ownership transaction records. Pulse can serve as the critical tool that connects state regulators and trading partners, helping them ensure the legitimacy of prescription medications.

To support organizations navigating the complex process of DSCSA compliance, Pulse will provide access to user-friendly tools and a comprehensive network of verified relationships, enabling consistent communication with trusted trading partners of all sizes across the pharmaceutical supply chain. Pulse will also offer educational programs to help platform users prepare for DSCSA compliance.  

“NABP is the right organization to convene the ecosystem and establish a truly industry-changing solution to improve the safety and visibility of the pharmaceutical supply chain in the U.S.,” said Luq Niazi, global managing partner, industries, IBM Consulting. “The more connected the pharmaceutical supply chain is, with the right technology platform, the easier it can be for drug manufacturers, drug distributors and pharmacies to improve patient safety. We’re proud to be NABP’s implementation partner to build a platform that can meet the ecosystem’s needs for data security, reliability, and scale.”

Powered by automation and other technologies, such as MediLedger Product Verification System, Pulse is designed to integrate application programming interfaces (APIs) from solution providers that allow for searching trading partners, verifying authorized trading partner status, transmitting digital credentials, and electronic tracing.

Manufacturers, distributors, dispensers, regulators, and solution providers will have the opportunity to benefit from the secure, efficient, and trusted communications provided by the Pulse platform. Providing options for small- to large-scale organizations across the supply chain, the intuitive user experience is designed to help reduce manual work.

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