November 19, 2013 3:30 PM, EST

Congress Passes Bill to Set Drug Distribution Standards

A bill that establishes new national standards for the distribution of prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals has been approved by Congress and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

The Drug Quality and Security Act requires distributors and transportation service providers to trace pharmaceutical products through the entire supply chain. The law also authorizes the government to set licensing standards for wholesale distributors and third-party logistics service providers.

The legislation “is a giant step forward for the safety of America’s drug distribution network and our supply chains,” said Scott Davis, chairman of parcel and freight carrier UPS Inc.

UPS was a member of the Pharmaceutical Distribution Security Alliance, a coalition of more than two dozen companies that advocated for passage of federal legislation to take the place a patchwork of state regulations for more than a decade.

Alliance spokesman Vince Ventimiglia said the law “will strengthen and enhance current safeguards to ensure that all American health care consumers are better protected from the grave threat of counterfeit, fake and adulterated pharmaceutical products.”

More than 9 million prescription medicines and healthcare products are distributed every day in the United States.

The ability to trace medical products uniformly while maintaining a seamless healthcare supply chain “is essential,” said Matthew Rowan, president of the Health Industry Distributors Association, Alexandria, Va. “We encourage immediate presidential action on the bill to ensure this is signed into law as quickly as possible.”