A digital platform to track the availability of essential drugs

Wednesday April 20, 2022 at 4:54 pm

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) of India has initiated new efforts to track the availability of essential medicinal drugs across the country by creating a new national-level digital platform in which the various stakeholders could update their stock positions. One may also note that the regulated markets of the world, such as the United States, already have their drug regulator updating the details of different medicines that may be in shortage on a regular basis.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has floated an Expression of Interest (EoI) for shortlisting an agency for tracking the availability of some specified medicines in the supply chain across the country, particularly in the backdrop of the challenges the industry faced in monitoring the availability of various Covid-19 related drugs in different parts of the country during the pandemic.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) asserted that one of its primary roles is to monitor the availability of various drugs, identify shortages, if any, and take any remedial steps if need be. It has faced constraints in tracking the stocks of medicines in the supply chain during the Covid pandemic.

“The problem is two-fold – on tracking ‘where’ and ‘how much’ quantities of the drugs are available in the supply chain. Accordingly, a system is being envisaged to ‘create capability’ for tracking the availability of particular drugs in the supply chain as and when required,” National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) commented.

The project’s objective will be to track the availability of stock of various medicines in the supply chain, whether it be with manufacturers, CnF agents, distributors, or some selected retailers, etc., up to the district level across the country.

The shortlisted agency thus has to collect production, sales, and stock data of selected drugs from these stakeholders whenever required by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA); to further analyze the data and provide reports to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA); and to develop and operate a National Pharma Dashboard, which would be an open standards-based Digital Platform. It would expose the Open Application Programming Interface (APIs).

The Platform should enable various ecosystem partners to publish their stock position at active locations using the API as per the need or mandate on a declared frequency. These partners include manufacturers, distributors, retailers, etc. That would lead to creating a dashboard that can give a national-level representation of the respective availability of essential medicines.

The selected agency must cover all the manufacturers and distributors of a specified drug, cover all districts that need to be covered with a minimum of five major retailers per district, enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or other agreements with various manufacturers and distributors for the purpose of data collection. It is also responsible for conducting most of the data analysis using a predefined algorithm that will have minimum human intervention. The data thus collected would be the sole property of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)  and can not be shared with anyone without its permission. The information needs to be updated daily, it added. The agency must also prepare data standards as it needs to expose the open API, said the tender document.

Following the initiation of Expression of Interest (EoI) bids, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)  would conduct technical discussions and presentations with various shortlisted agencies. The second stage shall issue RFP to the various shortlisted agencies and invite bids from all those bidders whose bids at the first stage were not rejected to present their final offer with bid prices in response to a revised set of terms containing the procurement, it added.