SUPPLY CHAIN VISIBILITY
Today’s pharmaceutical industry has become increasingly complex as more and more companies outsource production to contract manufacturers around the globe. While many leading pharma companies have transformed their supply chains to reduce costs and drive growth, many still face challenges when it comes to mitigating risks associated with disruptions, such as international trade and geopolitical tensions, financial crises, pandemics and natural disasters, cyberthreats, and other shocks. In addition, regional dependencies on partners exacerbate issues in pharmaceutical supply chains—from both timely procurement and regulatory compliance standpoints.
According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company, even though supply chain disruptions have become routine, there are four ways to build supply chain resilience: end-to-end visibility, regular stress testing and evaluations, strategies to reduce exposure to shocks, and executive commitment to prioritizing pharmaceutical supply chain management.
Let’s explore the first pillar, supply chain visibility (otherwise known as track and trace in the pharma sector), in more detail.
UNDERSTANDING SUPPLY CHAIN VISIBILITY
At its core, supply chain visibility is about having a clear and comprehensive view of all the stages and processes involved in the movement of pharmaceutical products, from sourcing to production to the end consumer. It’s about knowing where your products are and how they are handled and ensuring they comply with all regulatory standards. This level of visibility is essential for identifying vulnerabilities and proactively addressing them, ensuring quality, and maintaining the trust of consumers and regulators alike.
A lack of supply chain visibility can have detrimental consequences. Pharmaceutical companies face significant problems without end-to-end visibility, including regulatory non-compliance, counterfeiting, and quality issues. These risks can lead to severe financial losses, reputational damage, and, most critically, a compromise in patient safety.
THE BENEFITS OF ACHIEVING SUPPLY CHAIN VISIBILITY
Achieving end-to-end visibility in pharmaceutical supply chains offers numerous benefits. First, it enhances data security, ensuring sensitive information is protected throughout the supply chain. Pharma manufacturers can identify weak links with partners who have poor data security practices and allow them to enforce compliance standards. Furthermore, supply chain visibility can contribute to detecting unusual activities or potential breaches so that IT teams can quickly counteract them with security measures.
Supply chain visibility also plays a crucial role in safeguarding brand reputation in several tangible ways. It enables real-time product quality and safety monitoring throughout the supply chain, ensuring that all products meet the brand’s standards before reaching consumers. This proactive approach to quality control helps prevent incidents that could harm people, reduce complicated and expensive recalls, and reduce ensuing litigation. Supply chain transparency allows for the tracking of ethical sourcing practices as well. Companies can verify that their products are produced under fair labour conditions and environmentally sustainable practices, aligning with consumer values and strengthening a manufacturer’s brand reputation.
TACTICS TO ADOPT FOR SUPPLY CHAIN VISIBILITY
How, then, can pharmaceutical companies achieve this level of visibility?
To begin with, pharma businesses should regularly map out their entire supply chains to assess potential vulnerabilities. McKinsey & Company points out to 7 key areas to examine:
- Financial frameworks
- Regulatory compliance
- Data security
- Structural external events
- Operational and multi-tier partner performance
- Brand protection considerations
- Organizational maturity
These analyses can be conducted in-house or with third-party experts. Nevertheless, many pharmaceutical manufacturers are turning to end-to-end traceability technologies for reliable, accurate, and real-time data collection as well as comprehensive supply chain track-and-trace functionalities.One such solution is Optchain Verify
Optchain Verify enables manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry to access the data they need to improve quality control and compliance at each stage of their supply streams, both upstream and downstream, thereby better controlling how medications are produced, delivered and stored.
As a cloud-based SaaS solution, Optchain Verify features serialization, traceability and reporting capabilities for L4-L5, offering vertical communication with pharmaceutical governing bodies and horizontal communication with commercial partners. With Optchain Verify, manufacturers can identify the status and history of every single serial number—down to the unit level. In addition, it is the only platform that truly leverages the GS1/EPCIS standard at the system’s core, making it easier to attain scalable and future-proofed serialization.
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