The Push for a Pull Supply Chain
In Pharm Exec’s 2013 end-of-year supply chain roundup, we began with a three-word vision of the immediate future that left little room for ambiguity: “Serialization is coming.” With the impending laws regarding “track and trace” promising to alter the way pharmaceuticals are packaged and shipped, we outlined how global pharma was gearing up to deal with the effects of serialization, and how companies needed to review their own internal practices and those of their outsourcing partners, as the need for technology solutions for both sides of the outsourcing relationship became more evident.
Of course, that message still stands, and it is arguably even more urgent if we are to believe Ian Haynes of 3C Integrity Consulting, who unnerved many in the audience at London’s recent FlyPharma 2015 conference when he said that pharma is still not ready to meet the obligations of track and trace. But since 2013, a number of other concerns—some equally as transparent, others less immediately visible—have emerged to stand alongside the move to serialization as potentially major disruptions in the way the industry operates. Indeed, as we head into 2016, one industry insider believes the pharma supply chain is facing a confluence of challenges “the likes of which it has never seen before.”
John Menna, UPS vice president of global strategy, healthcare logistics, often observes companies “doing a fantastic job of maintaining the efficacy of their products from manufacturer all the way to the destination country.” But when the products get to their destination, where there isn’t the same commitment to rigorous procedures, “they end up not being stored at the proper temperature, in the right environment, and with the right protocols.” And companies may be unaware of this, Menna adds. “If a vice president of supply chain at a big Pharma company flies out to the destination and sees how products are being stored there, they may be in for a shock. Companies need to take a hard look at their supply chain endpoints, and at the providers that they’re using.”