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What is Reverse Distribution for Pharmaceuticals?

With an increasingly aging population and as more medicines are released, it’s a necessity to reduce waste and keep unsafe pharmaceuticals off the market.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the careful disposal of pharmaceutical waste is necessary to protect human health and the environment. One way to help curb the problem of improper disposal includes what’s known as, “reverse distribution.” This relates to how returns and recalls for pharmaceuticals are handled by wholesalers.

In addition to cutting costs and streamlining processes, it’s also been highly regarded as a method to help with the opioid epidemic faced across the nation.

More specifically, the focus with reverse distribution is to manage all unsold inventory that’s still saleable and removing what’s unsellable from the pharmaceutical supply chain.

For this to happen, federal and state regulations must be followed, electronic distribution tracking systems must be used, and a differentiation must be distinguished between products that have been returned, were delivered damaged or shipped erroneously, as well as those that have been recalled or returned by a customer.

All of these products have their own unique reverse distribution and handling requirements.

With an increasingly aging population and as more medicine is created and released, this will become a growing necessity to both reduce waste and keep unsafe pharmaceuticals off the market.

According to one report by Healthcare Distribution Alliance Foundation (HDA) Research, this channel accounts for 3.5 to 4 percent of all pharmaceutical sales — more than 120 million product units — and exceeds $13 billion in product value.

Current legislation to mandate the verification process for returned products by wholesalers before the end of 2019 has many scrambling to update their IT systems to better track returns. The Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) is just one of the up and coming ways to help ensure the public remains safe and that industry is held accountable for their part in pharmaceutical waste.

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Reverse Distribution

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