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Supply chain lapses slow pandemic responses; survey

By Nick Taylor, 10-Sep-2009

Related topics: Regulatory & Safety

More than 50 per cent of executives believe their company fails to respond quickly enough to pandemics because of lapses in the supply chain, according to an IBM survey.

The survey states the pharma industry has become highly globalised in recent years but implementation of supply chain technologies and initiatives has failed to keep pace, resulting in shortcomings in some areas.

One aspect of this is responding to pandemics but the report also states that the shift away from the blockbuster model has created new challenges.

This is a consequence of targeting smaller patient populations with products that comprise of multiple components, for instance a therapeutic, delivery device and monitoring mechanism.

Each of these components may be supplied by a different partner and the survey believes this has dramatic implications for the supply chain. Similarly, rising demand designer drugs or specialised packaging was regarded as a major challenge by 64 per cent of respondents.

Proposed solution

IBM proposes that to address these issues the industry adopts a supply chain that is more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. By taking these steps the report claims operations can be tailored to meet the needs of different markets, customer groups and individual patients.

Instrumentation covers use of sensors and devices to improve visibility across the supply chain, which was a key priority for 70 per cent of respondents. Improving visibility provides companies with a way of mitigating risk, reducing costs and managing rising complexity.

The report suggests sensors should be interconnected with other elements to enable the sharing of information that is needed to manage the supply chain in real time. In particular the report believes that pharmas’ collaboration with customers is poor, leading to overstocking.

Finally, information should be used in a more intelligent way by adopting advanced analytics, simulation and modelling tools. By doing this companies can evaluate the risks and constraints on the supply chain in a more scientific manner.

A copy of the report can be viewed here .