The assessment by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization of the gaps in the ability of regulatory agencies to address the problems of an international supply chain has revealed some surprising differences in their practices.
For example, the U.S. differs sharply from many other APEC members with regard to its allowance for drug repackaging and Internet sales of pharmaceutical products.
The U.S. was the only country of over a dozen in attendance at the May 2014 meeting of APEC’s supply chain group that allows repackaging – one route by which substandard/counterfeit products can enter the legitimate marketplace. While Europe allows over-labeling and relabeling, it does not allow repackaging.
Regarding Internet sales of pharma products – a widespread problem in the U.S. – some APEC member countries such as Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong have made such sales illegal.
Another salient difference is the ability of the various regulatory agencies to stop products moving in and out of their countries. Unlike FDA, most of the regulatory authorities within APEC do not have direct relationships with customs officials and are generally not familiar with their operations.
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