Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

BI, Analytics & Reporting

- 4 min read

Intelligent planning delivers responsiveness for pharmaceutical Supply Chains

Significant Supply Chain disruptions have become routine in today’s busy business world. The global pandemic, international trade tension, cyberattacks, cargo vessels waiting to unload in the most important ports worldwide, and natural disasters number just a few disturbances that have spun the pharmaceutical industry. 

These disruptions have severe Supply Chain consequences. They are a warning call to businesses to transform their Pharmaceutical Supply Chain models and address potential challenges to material flow, drug shortages, and factory synchronization in the face of global demand. With heightened complexity and significant changes, businesses have decreased visibility across critical Supply Chain processes, negatively impacting the speed of developing vaccines and their availability to market. 

As the pandemic vaccination program progressed, the Cold Chain became a key constraint. The Cold Chain preserves medicines at the proper temperature throughout the journey, so healthcare professionals can ensure they are adequate for objective and safe use. Items like vaccines go through many stages, supervised by several people during transit from manufacturer to patient, to guarantee stability throughout that period. Despite immense efforts from all concerned, the range and urgency of the rollout placed existing systems under pressure. 

Pharmaceutical Supply Chains rely on complex processes, often comprising a series of participants distributed across numerous locations. Success revolves around ‘the right people doing the right things, in the right place and time.’ 

It isn’t easy to track what is happening at each stage. Processes are likely to be siloed due to a lack of remote supervision and the excessive reliance on manual inspections and “form-filling.” These constraints are a particular area of distress when dealing with vaccines that are temperature critical. 

Digital Supply Chain 

The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain uses wide-ranging digital technologies that improve visibility, end-to-end tracking, and intelligent planning that automate legacy manual and often error-prone processes. 

Edge technology is advancing to grant real-time data focused on the state of temperature-critical medicines to bring about, direct, and register the actions people may need to respond to any problematic discrepancy. 

These new tools can indicate how long you have before the vaccine expires, wasting less time and forging greater trust in the Supply Chain journey without the needing to travel among sites to check. 

Several Cold Chain companies now set temperature sensors in their containers; these sensors can be connected to telematics to make updates available in real-time – tracing individual containers from manufacturer to patient. 

Items can be tracked by linking warehouse tracking systems, purchase order data, transport order data, and in-transit telematics. The data set generated is massive, but the employment of cloud-based scalable databases facilitates sorting out the essential insights. 

Pharmaceutical companies use digital tools to help with Demand Planning, providing greater flexibility and responsiveness in areas where planned inventory buffers are built. They use Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics to produce robust forecasts of unexpected variation and drive better efficiency across operations. 

Improved digitization will remove the manual supervising burden from hard-working personnel, who must focus entirely on improved patient outcomes to build a better audit trail for compliance with objective evidence and specific corrective actions and workflows. 

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain regulations and planning 

Brexit boosted these kinds of challenges in the UK in 2021, when the UK left the European Union and the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD). The FMD certifies that medicines provided in Europe are what they should be. Packs have a barcode, which hospitals and pharmacies must scan at the distribution point. As a result, false or poor-quality medicines will have a tough time entering the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) research reveals that the drug shortage has increased since 2017. Product shortage supply includes: 

  • central nervous system medications 
  • antimicrobials 
  • cardiovascular medications 
  • ophthalmic solutions 
  • chemotherapy agents 
  • essential healthcare products such as hand sanitizer.  

Shortages last longer, more than eight years in some cases. These areas need careful planning to maximize patient experience. 

The White House Executive Order 14017 states Supply Chains need to be resilient and diverse to warrant visibility and enhance pharmaceutical cybersecurity, economic prosperity, and national security. It strictly tests the industry ready to take care of these policies through the Zero Trust Security program, which calls on enterprises to boost local capabilities, foster international cooperation, and builds emergency capabilities. 

The FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which provides a federal framework for tracking prescription medications employing the Supply Chain, is challenging the pharmaceutical industry to reach data transaction targets by November 2023. Obstacles in implementing new FDA measures encompass the need for internal IT to modernize the line processes, packaging, transportation, and any internal resolution. 

Pharmaceutical companies are choosing cloud-based Supply Chain solutions to perform intelligent planning, governance, and transparency for the management of the manufacturing pharmaceutical products. At the same time, these Supply Chains platforms focus on enhancing development, improving clinical trial management, and accelerating regulatory registration.  

Efficiencies are achievable through an innovative partner ecosystem and comprehensive solutions that smoothly connect business processes, assets, people, and workflows. This technology gives businesses more power and visibility than ever before while making operations more flexible. 

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain security 

Recent research from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) stated that 93% of healthcare companies underwent data breaches in the past three years. The Pharmaceutical industry lost billions due to intellectual property cybertheft globally. The average expense of a data infringement is more than $5 million; this area has the highest costs of remediating the breach. 

Security expectations are for continued innovation in identity, safety, and observance, to assume complete security protection that copes with today’s most challenging security issues and solutions integrated directly into all our services and products. 

Safeguarding the COVID-19 Vaccine 

More threats have turned up in the urgency to produce a Covid-19 vaccine when collaborating with Pharma companies. Bringing together numerous cybersecurity best practices, Pharmaceutical companies found a better chance to protect their valuable IP and vaccines. By closing the cybersecurity gaps in vaccine Supply Chains, as a consequence, nations can build more efficient and secure processes for distributing the vaccine while safeguarding their citizens and being more secure from threats. 

Transforming Pharmaceutical supply chains 

The Pharmaceutical industry’s growth is escalating. In the past two decades, the worldwide value of pharmaceutical goods grew to $629 billion in 2019. Life science organizations can support edge technologies to improve digital operations while improving the value chain for customer developments. 

An improved infrastructure ensures advantageous inventory management and cost savings, and it will close the gap between demand and fulfillment through intelligent planning. Moreover, edge technologies will shift business paradigms toward sustainability and help businesses understand and lessen operations’ impact on the world. 

Furthermore, the technological transformation will enable companies to fulfill sustainability goals while embracing and managing change as an opportunity for growth to build future supply chains. 

Crafting a resilient pharmaceutical Supply Chain will involve enhancing local manufacturing and outlining a sequence of recommendations for expanding the Supply Chain, and leveraging partnerships built upon a unified process that leverages industry-wide intelligence to plan better.

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