Supply chains are critical to market access
Drug shortages are an unquestionable problem in pharma distribution but can be solved through the application and management of robust supply chains.
In 2011, the world experienced a severe drug shortage. This situation was repeated during the COVID-19 pandemic when global lockdowns forced countries into isolation. But this is only one aspect of market access, and while it has been a challenging situation for the biopharma industry, one must not lose sight of its impact on the broader medical community, and its patients.
According to a recent article in Pharmaexec, root causes for drug shortages include logistical challenges brought on by drug supply chains becoming longer, more complex, and fragmented. This is in the wake of companies having to leverage global production sites, and a rise in contract manufacturing.1
The complex web of global raw materials supply can also result in greater risk, limiting the ability of drug manufacturers to increase production in a timely manner. To manage global supply, ingredient manufacturers must manage their own supply chain partners to ensure a consistent and high-quality supply of materials to biopharma customers.2
The biopharma industry can ensure robustness by identifying and managing risk. It has been proven repeatedly that companies with a strong focus and vigorous risk management approaches, are often the most successful.
Best-practices to limit supply chain risk 3
- Select raw materials with the right quality levels.
- Accurately and efficiently translate anticipated patient demand into material, equipment, and capacity needs.
- Foster a culture of open and transparent communication between supply chain teams to optimise strategic planning.
- Manage bill of materials to streamline demand.
- Biopharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and installed infrastructure must be flexible to cope with significant changes in demand.
- Biopharma companies should be prepared to accept an increase in change notifications in terms of supply network, increased capacity and by qualifying secondary sources.
- Follow a robust change management process in alignment with industry best practice guidance and provide comprehensive data packages to support customers.
- Put strategies in place for accelerating the acceptance of finished goods from new plants or with a second source of raw materials.
How to strengthen supply chains for business continuity 4
- Leverage a cross-functional team to identify, assess, quantify, and then develop risk mitigation measures. The aim is to prioritise risk, by understanding the major sources and then taking action to minimise damage.
- Conduct reviews from a strategic, critical raw materials perspective in the form of supplier relations management meetings with suppliers.
- Define mutual goals as it relates to quality and supply chain. The process is resource-intensive on both sides, but the resulting direct dialogue between supply and quality teams is beneficial.
- Investigate the various dimension of the supply chain including raw materials, capacity output versus demand required, IT infrastructure and if the distribution network is streamlined.
- Use a heatmap of probability and impact to identify the biggest risks and then identify what actions can be taken to mitigate those risks.
- Be flexible whether investing in capacity or adopting inventory strategies. This is particularly important in scenarios where raw materials are held in multiple regions.
- Map suppliers to know exactly where components are manufactured. This can enable inventory to be prepositioned in advance of a natural disaster or unforeseen event and avoid potential supply disruptions.
In today’s business environment, risk is inevitable. What is important is to keep your business continuity programme as robust as possible by identifying the top risks and by working on solutions on how to mitigate those risks before they happen. COVID-19 has taught the pharma industry and the world that you must plan for the impact of unforeseen disasters on the supply chain and be mindful of changes in the geopolitical landscape that could severely impact your operation. Speak to the team at Clarity Pharma to make the most out of your supply chain and logistics network.
About the author: Steven Soper has forged a highly successful career in the IT distribution sector, leading the UK’s largest independent distributor for over 10 years. He brings astute commercial insight and a passionate drive to improve to our executive team, coupled with the experience of delivering innovative business solutions that are at the heart of the Clarity Pharma offering.