California Pharmacy Board Delays Deadline for Drug Tracking Law
The California Board of Pharmacy voted yesterday to delay until 2011 a law that all prescription drugs be electronically tracked from the drug manufacturer to the pharmacy, the New York Times reports.
The board's vote came in response to complaints from drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers that said they could not meet the Jan. 1, 2009, deadline and would have to stop selling prescription drugs in California rather than violate state law (Pollack, New York Times, 3/26).
The law, enacted in 2004, required that tracking systems be instituted by Jan. 1, 2007, but the California Legislature in 2006 extended the deadline to Jan. 1, 2009.
When the Legislature postponed the deadline in 2006, it also created tougher restrictions that mandate the industry to install electronic readers to track serial numbers on each unit of a drug at key points in the manufacturing, distribution and sales processes (California Healthline, 3/25).
Ronald Bone -- senior vice president of McKesson Pharmaceutical, a drug distributor -- said only 100 of 650 drug manufacturers surveyed by McKesson would be able to institute a drug tracking system by the Jan. 1, 2009, deadline.
Pharmacies and wholesalers also said they could not install the software and equipment necessary for reading serial numbers until they knew what systems the drug manufacturers were using (New York Times, 3/26).
Other board officials raised concerns that if manufacturers did not have enough time to comply with the law, it might be poorly implemented or they could refuse to sell their medications in California (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/26).
William Powers, president of the Board of Pharmacy, said in a letter from yesterday that the development of radio frequency identification technologies for tracking drugs has accelerated in the past six to 18 months and would benefit greatly from additional time (East Bay Business Times, 3/25).
In addition, FDA has said it would release a standardized system for issuing identification numbers to medications by March 2010, a time frame that could permit California and the federal government to use the same standards.
Drug makers strongly opposed the possibility of states having different identification standards.
The Legislature is expected to discuss modifications to the law later this year (New York Times, 3/26).