The reliance on a resilient supply chain lifecycle in the Indian pharmaceutical industry has been more pronounced than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the shutdowns and labor movements have exposed vulnerabilities in the pharmaceutical supply chain, raising concerns among retailers, healthcare providers and consumers about potential drug shortages, health issues quality and price volatility.
Patients and industry decision makers recognize the potential negative consequences of an unstable supply chain. Drug quality issues due to improper storage, primarily related to refrigeration and temperature control, top the list among both segments, according to Zebra’s Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Vision Study recently. conducted. Seven out of 10 patients also say they are worried about receiving stolen, contaminated, contaminated, expired or counterfeit medicines. Four out of 10 patients fear that more illnesses and/or deaths will occur without improvements in the supply chain. This likely explains why 81% of patients surveyed now expect manufacturers to share details about how drugs are produced, handled, transported and stored.
Yet it’s not just manufacturers’ practices that are under scrutiny. Pharmacies are also under fire.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of patients surveyed have real concerns about receiving an inappropriate dose of medication due to mislabeling, and they worry about the harm it could cause them. It’s no surprise, then, that more than half of patients hold pharmacies responsible for ensuring medications are stored safely and without compromise.
As my colleague at Zebra, John Wirthlin, Director of Industry, Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, recently stated, every stakeholder in the ecosystem must step up to address these growing concerns and collectively work towards the right evaluation and proper implementation of the technology. More importantly, they must act in time.
The need for a culture of data quality and integrity
The burden of responsibility for the safety of the pharmaceutical supply chain is shared among those who regulate, manufacture, dispense and administer medicines. However, total patient trust in these entities is relatively low. In an industry where quality and efficiency are of paramount importance, investment in enterprise technology supports the achievement of regulatory compliance as well as patient protection.
A culture of data quality and integrity empowers and motivates change for a safer, more agile and resilient supply chain that can withstand future market disruptions. All of these factors influence patient confidence in the short and long term, as does the ability to verify that a drug is genuine, not expired, and not currently under review. recall or investigation.
Technology and transparency can build an agile and efficient supply chain
Better visibility is the key to building an agile and efficient supply chain in the pharmaceutical sector. Tracking solutions such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Real-Time Tracking Systems (RTLS) automatically detect the status of assets and inventory to provide real-time visibility across the entire facility . For pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, this can streamline production flows and help avoid shortages due to lost or potentially compromised products. Interestingly, according to the Zebra Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Vision Study, 76% of industry decision makers say they have already deployed location services technology or plan to do so within the next year. Apart from this, other devices that industry leaders plan to implement to better manage pharmaceutical supply chains include stationary label printers, mobile barcode labels or thermal printers, rugged tablets, rugged scanners and rugged laptops. All are essential to accurate product labeling which, in turn, enables more efficient and effective pharmaceutical tracking and tracing.
Gaps will be filled if industry players are in tune with the government
India is a major player in the global pharmaceutical sector and is currently the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs, accounting for 20% of global supply by volume. The country also supplies around 60% of the world’s vaccines, making India’s pharmaceutical sector worth US$42 billion – ranking third in volume and thirteenth in value in the world. The government is already playing a crucial role in giving infrastructure status to “logistics” which has further spurred the growth of the pharmaceutical and healthcare supply chain. This made the sector eligible for 100% foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in the storage and warehousing sector.
In addition, the recent announcement under the Union Budget 2022 to build new highways and cargo terminals at 22:00 Gati Shakti over the next three years will help improve efficiency and be key to enhancing the national supply chain. This will provide much-needed impetus to help pharmaceutical players, as well as other industries, speed up operations and deliver products faster and more cost-effectively. It will also open doors for the implementation of digital technologies to help industry players prepare for any future crises and increase transparency across the entire supply chain.
By Rajnish Gupta, India, and Head of Subcontinent, Zebra Technologies
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