How To Strengthen Risk Management Practices In The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
By Peter Murray, quality and GMP compliance expert, former quality director, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sid Deshpande, manager of customer advocacy, MetricStream.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers increasingly rely on a complex chain of suppliers to manage various aspects of their product production cycle. Supplier A might process the pharmaceutical ingredients, while Supplier B assembles the dose forms. Supplier C provides some specialized test services, Supplier D packages and delivers the products, and so on. This creates multiple supplier interfaces, each interface representing a potential risk to product safety and compliance. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) require effective and consistent management of these potential risks.
The end customers — i.e. the patients — are largely uninterested in the complexities of the pharmaceutical supply chain or the challenges involved in managing multiple suppliers. What’s important to customers is that they get their medicine delivered on time, in the correct dosage, and at an affordable price. If something goes wrong — for instance, a product delivery is delayed, or a medicine has been incorrectly labeled — the responsibility and consequences are inevitably borne by the pharmaceutical manufacturer listed on the product pack, even though the issue may have occurred somewhere in their supply chain.