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Pharmaceutical distributors and wholesalers is an important link between the drug manufacturers and other pharmaceutical units like hospitals, pharmacies, etc. The correlations between the drug manufacturers, the distributors, and the end customers are quite complicated and completely rely on some of the basic features of the pharmaceutical supply chain. Below lie the most important challenges that the supply chain for the pharmaceutical industry has to face. 


#1 Lack of Data and Insights on Immediate Basis 

Irrespective of companies under the pharma sector, the supply chain management teams often lack sufficient information in hand to come to apt decisions. In addition to this, supply chain complexity makes it all the more difficult to evaluate certain alternatives, trade-offs and other parameters before coming to the most appropriate decision. 

Although the traditional transactional-based ERP excels in handling huge volumes of data, the way information is captured, handled and stored; makes it hard to use it for identifying progressive trends. 


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#2 Tracking problem source 

The pharma sector faces much difficulty in tracing problems back to their sources; in cases like an imitation drug gets into a shipment, or a sudden price rise without a valid reason, and so on. 


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#3 Digitalization 

The wave of digitization is everywhere, and the world of pharmaceuticals cannot be an exception. Digitalization of documents and standardization across industry platforms, digital signatures for regulatory documents, smart contracts, blockchain, and automation, etc; are all there in the call of the hour.  

The main challenge for the pharmaceutical sector lies in finding the best way to achieve the transition securely, enhancing data security to help in post Covid19 work environments, tracking conversion and reinvention of supply chain tools and techniques for continuous improvement within the digital world. 


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#4 Pharmaceutical fraud

Pharmaceutical fraud remains a major challenge for the business and it apparently reached its worst phase during COVID-19. Due to the misconduct during the pandemic, the sector saw a much  higher-than-average health care fraud recoveries in 2021. 


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#5 Compliance and Regulations 

The pharmaceutical supply chain already needs to follow the latest Good Distribution Practice. But regulations are in constant change. Hence companies are in need of rearranging their own internal control and management of customs and their supply chains in a better way, matching up to the changes. 


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#6 Developing a patient-centric pharmaceutical supply chain 

It is becoming increasngly important for each of the pharma companies, to have an ERP system installed in their business environment; which will be helpful in managing inventory, distribution, and manufacturing processes. Also, it streamlines the business operations of a pharmaceutical company. 

Meta-Pharma is one of the best ERP software solutions for pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. Also, it ensures growth in productivity and simplification of operations to enhance profit generation.

With Meta-Pharma’s digital supply network, pharmaceutical manufacturers, health systems, and other stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry supply chain get the granular end-to-end supply chain visibility and collaborative tools that they need to create patient-centric supply chains. Healthcare providers are increasingly shifting far away from a one-size-fits-all approach in favor of personalized medicines. It includes next-generation cell and gene therapies, to boost patient outcomes. 


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#7 Keeping up with Changing Customer Needs 

One needs to understand that the supply chain management moves around the needs of the customers. It is about giving the right product in the right quantity having the right quality for the right amount of money; all of which in perfect timing and setting. 

This is certainly not a simple deed. Customers have different preferences, that might even change with time, and companies always need to adjust to the customer’s needs. Companies that excel in this field are the actually ones that make an effort to learn and invest in new technologies.


#8 Ever-Increasing Costs 

The costs of raw materials, energy and labor have increased due to economical constraints, almost everywhere across the globe. In order for operations to continue production and provide customers with good quality items at affordable rates, adjustments have to be made to keep operations running.

The best solution to this issue would be improving your cost control by executing your plans efficiently through constant monitoring, and via efforts in providing warehouse efficiency one will be able to achieve the same. 


#9 Risk Management

The constant changes in the market, due to changing consumer demands, political agendas and global sourcing, cause major issues to the operations. Hence it is very crucial to be prepared with a risk management plan, on how a company will be able to overcome disruptions during the course of operations. 

By hiring a logistics software development company a pharma company will be able to manage these issues effectively with less effort on their end; as it is logistics management is crucial to the entire operation. 


#10 Supplier Relationship

Having a mutually sound and harmonious rapport with partners or suppliers, enables one to provide customers with products of high standards in a timely manner. This also allows to create opportunities for improvement in terms of performance.


#11 Limited Granularity of Data 

When China shut down in Covid19 pandemic, many who thought they understood their supply chains discovered that knowing Tier 1 suppliers wasn’t enough. Few appreciated the extent supply would be affected by the shutdown of Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers located in the Wuhan region and later, as the virus spread, in other parts of the world. Much of this was due to faulty assumptions regarding Tier 1 suppliers and possibly a degree of wishful thinking. 

Naturally, it’s not just the impact of COVID-19 that’s important, but companies also need to guard against the potential impact of other events that could exacerbate supply chain issues, like: 

  • Trade wars
  • Natural disasters (South Korea, currently facing sudden massive flood) 
  • Sanctions (like Russia being currently imposed)
  • Civil unrest (Sri Lanka being the current example) 
  • Strikes 


# 12 Single-source Amplifies Supply Chain Risk

Out of some internal reasons, many pharma companies opted for single-sourcing strategies, and often because of this being the lowest cost option. Again, this also necessarily means companies are vulnerable if suppliers face shortages or production interruptions. It is risky and by all means, a way to lose sales at times of disruptions. 

Hence, companies should focus on risk mitigation strategies to foresee and minimize supply chain challenges and risks.  


#13 Slowed Digital Transformation

It is quite unfortunate that even today, many companies lack a great network of manual and digital systems that effectively trap information within functional silos, meaning that decision-making is hampered by an incomplete picture. 

It’s crucial companies devise ways to access supply chain data through the introduction of technologies that allow data to flow freely through the system. Additionally, organizations need technologies such as a supply chain digital twin that allow them to monitor, manage and observe the impacts of decisions.


#14 Maintaining Traditional Inventory Strategies 

Traditional inventory control systems revolve around past performance to determine current inventory decisions or strategies. Precise algorithms are used to figure out exact requirements. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t take into consideration unexpected events, nor is it agile and is often completely divorced from current realities.  

Experts advocate for an outside-in approach that looks at using streaming data to drive insights, determine market shifts and demand. This, along with the next generation of advanced inventory optimization techniques, form the best possible solution. 

Another way of looking at this is to what can be termed demand shaping based on ‘what-if analysis’ to find the expected demand and take care of supply chain disruptions.


#15 Getting the right workforce

Getting the right kind of workforce is extremely crucial for a sector like pharmaceuticals. The challenge is to find not only rightfully educated, but also ones who are talented, interested and passionate about this sector. Personnel hired in this field must not only have an understanding about the duties and responsibilities needed but also passionate towards the healthcare sector.