Concerns abound for pharma end-to-end supply chain as pandemic continues
Industry survey of 532 supply chain leaders in several countries reveals concerns about drug shortages, drug safety and a lack of resilience as pandemic continues
In new research announced by TraceLink Inc., a digital platform company for the life science supply chain, 75% of supply chain leaders agree that the pandemic will greatly increase problems with drug supply and 70% say their supply chains are vulnerable as a result.
COVID-19 has served to illustrate gaps in drug distribution, tracking, visibility and the industry’s ability to be agile in the face of disruption and changing demand patterns.
The IDC White Paper, ‘Supply Chain Agility in the Pharmaceutical Industry’ surveyed global supply chain leaders within pharmaceutical companies, wholesale distributors, hospitals and pharmacies. It showed that drug shortages are the top challenge being faced currently, with growing concerns around diversions and counterfeits. Forty-six percent of respondents had experienced drug shortages, both with COVID-related and COVID-unrelated treatments, with 70% agreeing their supply chain is very vulnerable to more problems due to the continuation of the pandemic.
The other main issues cited included stockpiling medications, transportation delays and increased costs. On-time, in-full (OTIF) delivery of medicines to patients and from suppliers (a standard metric for supply chains) had also degraded by ~50% within the first few months of the pandemic.
These issues were being worsened by poor visibility and a lack of agility, inhibiting pharmaceutical supply chains from being resilient to disruptions. Sixty-five percent of respondents can no longer accurately plan supply, and 63% have lost faith in their demand forecasts.
Overall, the supply chain is being shown up as having severe limitations throughout, with nearly half (43%) of the respondents saying they lack the necessary agility to survive major business disruptions. Alongside this, only about 6% of the companies are actively pursuing patient-centric transformation, and only 14% are focused on end-to-end visibility as a focus area in the supply chain.
"Pharmaceutical supply chains are still struggling to adapt to the global COVID-19 pandemic and prioritize business planning for the future, a worrying concern as we face a possible third wave in this pandemic," said Simon Ellis, Program Vice President, Supply Chain Strategies, IDC. "When both demand and supply are erratic, supply chain agility becomes a critical capability to meet patient needs. Agility requires much tighter and more transparent holistic relationships with suppliers, and levels of collaboration that have not been consistently achieved in the pharmaceutical industry, largely because of the constraints in sharing accurate data."