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FDA Sends Letter to Medical Firms About Cargo and Warehouse Thefts – Potential Help and Solutions Here

Posted Apr 29 2010 6:37am

On this topic, I’ll review a couple prior posts here on what I have suggested, having spent 25 years in logistics, maybe I might an idea or 2 here, if I can some open ears.  I called on companies shipping pharmaceuticals to include Pfizer and other medical companies.  As well as the carrier, internal warehouse methodologies are important as well.  Most warehouses have upgraded and have some pretty sophisticated system.  Last year we had the Tylenol situation where pallets were treated with a preservative to keep the wood preserved, a very common practice.  The solution to this is to use a one time “slip sheet” that is only used once.  This can be done when going to the final location and with a shrink wrapped pallet.  Using the one time slip sheets incurs more cost and thus companies have been resistant to incur the extra expense.   

Blind shipments:

One other area of concern has to do with the bills of lading to where a shipping location shown is not the actual origin, in other words it could show ABC Company in Chicago and the product was actually imported and put together by a warehouse at the docks or sometimes there are contracts where the carriers put the orders together.  This would not apply on high value products such as prescription medications, but dry milk and other products could certainly fall through this hole.  I wrote this up back in 2008 when concerns in the US over the melamine scare were being investigated.

When in sales and thefts occurred, it was not a pretty picture and consumer electronics are also a big target and medical devices as sold today fall right into this area.  The thieves are very coordinated in southern California and there’s a special group here called the Cargo Cats that do nothing but work on these types of thefts and they do a good job but timing is the important matter as many times the product is quickly loaded on a cargo ship going overseas. 

For finding stolen drugs, I had this suggestion, Tag the product. 

Watch this video and pretend that magazine tag is on a drug bottle, you get the picture.  The FDA could certainly use this and the link above is quite lengthy and has a mainstay on my site and hopefully some folks will crawl out of “tech denial” and take notice.  Amazing General Mills has started putting them on food products and yet with high priced pharmaceutical products and medical devices we just can’t seem to get anywhere.  These can be encrypted and work with RFID too.  Perhaps after this heist maybe some attention may be called to the matter with Tags.  Almost any cell phone with a camera will do the job. 

Microsoft Tags on CBS Early Show – Wake Up FDA, Pharma and Medical Device Companies –Scan Those Drugs, Medical Devices and Synchronize with an FDA Tag Data Base – Recalls, Theft Tracking and More…. image

I keep on my little campaign here and perhaps this post will get the attention of the FDA and some of the pharma and medical device companies. 

FedEx also has new technology that can track a shipment at any time to, even in the air so if there are some high value shipments out there is is worth looking at, link below.  I wished it has been around when I was still in logistics. 

You can put a letter out expressing concerns, but the real answers with most of this lies with technology.  Unlike a lot of healthcare, the logistics industry is usually right up there and ready for the challenge with technology but some special services may cost a little bit more.  BD

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to medical firms Wednesday, expressing concern about cargo and warehouse thefts of FDA-regulated products.

FDA Acting Assistant Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Michael Chappell said the stolen products have included prescription and over-the counter medicines, medical devices, vaccines and infant formula.

In the letter Chappell asked the industry to review and strengthen security practices.

"There have been several cases where patients experienced adverse reactions from stolen drugs, reactions that were most likely due to improper storage and handling," Chappell wrote. "We do not want to see this increase in thefts continue."

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