From drug manufacturing to delivery, weaknesses in the pharmaceutical supply chain have been long documented—and introduce opportunities for substandard and counterfeit medications to be passed along to consumers.

To mitigate this global threat, a group of companies and associations from all facets of the pharmaceutical industry have teamed up to form Rx-360, an international consortium aimed at securing the performance of the supply chain and making it easier for suppliers to share and receive information.

Martin VanTrieste is the vice president of quality assurance at Amgen, a biotechnology company, and the co-founder of Rx-360. Mr. VanTrieste recently spoke with the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) about the consortium’s efforts and visions for the future.

PSM: Rx-360 is a consortium of volunteers from the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Who are some your members? How can other organizations get involved?

Martin VanTrieste: One of the mantras of Rx-360 is to be inclusive and transparent. So we have designed Rx-360 to be accessible and easy to join. Currently, we have 28 members ranging from biopharmaceutical manufacturers like AstraZenica, Merck and Sanofi; to suppliers like West, Merck, KGaA and SAFC; to observers—a status granted to trade organizations and independent auditing firms—like the European Generic Medicines Associations.

Anyone interested in getting involved should visit the membership section of the Rx-360 Web site.

PSM: How is this collaboration essential to the strengthening of the drug supply chain?

MVT: Issues within the raw pharmaceutical supply chain are complex and global in nature. Add to that the issue of unethical players and criminals who have entered into the supply chain to turn a quick profit…it is hard for any one organization, regulatory body or company to quickly and effectively address all of these challenges.

A global consortium compliments the efforts of regulators and others who are developing standards and local measures to curtail these activities and mitigate their impact—as well as to deliver a level of global consistency that local measures alone cannot achieve. If we all work collaboratively, then we will have the highest probability of success.

Coming up: the conclusion of our interview with Martin VanTrieste, including his advice for consumers on protecting themselves from compromised ingredients in prescription drugs.