Tracelink whitepaper reveals significant industry challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused supply chain disruptions and a consequent loss of confidence for many pharma companies

Industry research announced by TraceLink has revealed the pharma industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19, citing significant challenges with drug shortages, limited access to critical medicines, increased production costs, and heightened concerns around drug counterfeiting, diversion and theft.

The IDC White Paper, “Supply Chain Agility in the Pharmaceutical Industry,” surveyed 532 global supply chain leaders across organisational levels and functions in pharmaceutical companies, wholesale distributors, hospitals and pharmacies. It highlights systematic issues in the resilience of the pharmaceutical supply chain as the industry braces for a third wave of the pandemic and prepares for safe, worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments.

Drug shortages are the top challenge faced by supply chain leaders, with growing concerns around diversions and counterfeits. 46% of respondents have experienced drug shortages during the pandemic, with an equal impact on COVID-19-related treatments and those unrelated to COVID-19, but impacted by supply disruptions. 75% of respondents agree that the pandemic has or will greatly increase problems with drug diversion, including theft and counterfeiting of critical products (such as test kits, vaccines and anti-viral medicines).

In addition, poor visibility and a lack of agility are inhibiting pharmaceutical supply chains from being resilient to disruptions. 65% of respondents said they could no longer accurately plan supply, while nearly half said they lack the agility and redundancy to survive major business disruptions.

“Pharmaceutical supply chains are still struggling to adapt to the global COVID-19 pandemic and prioritise 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.”

“The past eight months have stretched healthcare supply chains to the limit, demonstrating that today’s siloed approach to managing disruptions simply will not work,” said Shabbir Dahod, president and CEO, TraceLink. “Traditional information-sharing and business processes need to be broken down in order to improve agility, provide actionable visibility, and increase end to end supply chain resilience. Next generation technologies like digital network platforms and supply chain work-management software applications that are designed to work across multiple enterprises can improve supply chain performance and ensure the timely delivery of medicines to patients all over the world.”

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