Introduction: The Evolving Pharmaceutical Supply

Introduction: The Evolving Pharmaceutical Supply

September 29, 2020PAP-Q3-20-NI-12

The Outsourcing Issue Feature: Introduction

The entire world is reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread, the pharmaceutical industry is challenged to not only continue to supply existing, essential, life-saving medicines, but to develop and manufacture vast quantities of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines targeting the virus.

The industry must do so in a time of great uncertainty, while leveraging a supply chain that suffers from significant vulnerabilities that have become acute during the pandemic. Heavy reliance on suppliers in a limited part of the world has led to shortages of key pharmaceutical raw materials, intermediates, advanced pharmaceutical ingredients, and generic drugs. Limitations to transportation due to border and travel restrictions has complicated the movement of both materials and medicines. Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the situation, flooding the market with fraudulent personal protective equipment and COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines, as well as ramping up activities related to other marketed drugs.


Though the situation seems dire, there are many steps the pharmaceutical industry can take in response. There is much discussion about repatriating overseas manufacturing to domestic locations. Asian companies are also looking to establish a greater manufacturing footprint in the West to avoid their heavy reliance on local production facilities. 

But glocalization isn’t the only answer. Much closer collaboration across the supply chain is needed. The establishment of truly networked supply chains is also required to enable real-time monitoring and response. That will require much greater digitalization and the likely adoption of blockchain technology. Automation and the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics that employ vast quantities of data have the potential to significantly improve supply chain efficiencies. 

Ultimately, companies, the industry as a whole, and governments will need to focus on risk mitigation to develop effective supply chain planning and management solutions that will ensure the industry is well-equipped to weather future crises.

For a host of greater insights, please read on…

Read Part 1: The COVID-19 Pandemic Magnifies Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Issues
Read Part 2: The Growing Importance of Local Manufacturing and Nearby Outsourcing Partners
Read Part 3: Rethinking the Global Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Post-COVID-19
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