Reshaping Pharma Supply Chains with Patient-Centric Networks

Reshaping Pharma Supply Chains with Patient-Centric Networks

By Pharma Tech Outlook | Tuesday, August 14, 2018

While pharma companies around the globe have thought about patient centricity for years, a typical pharma supply chain links the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) to manufacturing, distribution, retail/pharmacy, and finally to the patient, who is always at the end of the chain.

A specific example is that of CAR-T cell therapy for certain types of cancers wherein immune cells harvested from a patient are re-engineered at a production facility, and are then injected again into the patient, allowing the reprogrammed cells to fight cancer. In this example, the supply chain begins and ends with a specific patient, which provides an extreme level of personalized medicine. Given that the cells involved are living, they have very short life spans and must be shipped in tightly managed, cryogenic conditions in a timely manner. From the moment the cells are harvested, downstream visibility is extremely important with no margin of error.

Concurrent planning, breaking down silos

Consider this: the API gets manufactured in China, granulation is performed in Puerto Rico, and then the packaging is done in the Netherlands. In this scenario, planners are very focused on these individual steps but not on the end-to-end flow.

With concurrent planning in the picture, planners have end-to-end visibility of the product flow plans. In addition, they can also simulate a variety of scenarios. Planners can now quickly assess impacts and evaluate options based on such scenarios.

Taming supply chain complexity through automation

Companies are leveraging integrated supply chain transformation programs to keep pace with the growth of the business. Some of the manufacturer's drugs contain up to four APIs with each having multiple variants. This significantly adds to planning complexity along with the challenges of regulatory compliance in relation to the place of production and sale based on genealogy.

In the past, the planners had to carry this burden, as previous planning systems could not account for regulatory constraints, resulting in failure of plan execution. Today, businesses can leverage requisite systems to integrate its regulatory database with supply chain planning. This definitely makes for a powerful supply chain management for any pharmaceutical company.

Making the move from linear to agile

Organizations are increasingly moving away from linear-style project management to a culture of experimentation. With the “think big, start small, scale fast” approach, the days of massive implementations with questionable payoff are numbered. Today, organizations are tackling more and more projects in smaller chunks, with pay-as-you-go models enabled by cloud-based offerings.

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