MARCH 2017 | PHARMACEUTICAL PROCESSING
Standardizing Data Exchange
“It’s really relevant for AmerisourceBergen to get
the wholesaling industry to ask the manufacturing
community for data to be exchanged in a
standardized format,” said Zenk, explaining that
ABC worked to update the ASN (Advanced Shipment
Notice) data standards so that the wholesaling
industry could request information to be sent to them
using the same format from the manufacturers.
“We felt that that was important,”
she continued. Therefore, one
manufacturer wouldn’t receive different
standards from different wholesalers.
“We knew in order to keep down
the cost of healthcare, we needed one
standard to do the data exchange.”
“What we did with the ASN is
we took the required data elements
and the transactional information
statement and history, and we
enhanced the ASN so that all of
the elements and the statements
were included within that data
transmission. So, we could use that
tool as a mechanism to receive all
of the compliant data,” said Zenk.
“We used the current electronic data
interchange (EDI) and enhanced that
messaging to meet the requirements.
“In a sense, we took a supply chain
tool and made it a compliance tool.”
Using ASNs for DSCSA Compliance
The DSCSA was signed in 2013, which left the
wholesale community with approximately 13-14
months (until January 2015) to implement this first
requirement: lot-level traceability.
“We knew we had to use an existing tool and
couldn’t come up with a new standard or new tool.
So, we used the ASN as that mechanism and that’s
what the industry has used for this first phase of lot-level traceability and information being exchanged
between trading partners,” said Zenk.
In order to standardize transactions between
trading partners — specifically manufacturers and
wholesalers — it was essential that companies
exchange and receive information in the same
manner. One manufacturer could be doing business
with 20 retailers and 20 wholesale distributors in
the U.S., which (in practical terms) meant that one
manufacturer could have to meet up to 40 different
requirements for EDI.
“We knew we had to standardize information at
AmerisourceBergen, and we knew the manufacturers
could only digest and handle (for ease of doing
business with us) one mechanism to give data to the
whole industry,” said Zenk.