Global supply chains are complex and interconnected as manufacturers are dependent on other nations, especially developing countries, for procurement of active components, API or any other raw materials that go into the manufacturing of drugs. The recent pandemic drastically impacted the movement of shipments across the globe creating a huge demand-supply gap.
In the last one year, manufacturers have realised the need for resilient supply chains and robust business continuity strategies. At the time when the whole world was put under lockdown, there was a subsequent increase in demand for medicines that pushed manufacturers to elevate their production levels while operational challenges prevailed. Moreover, manufacturers were struggling with stockpiles at their warehouses as distributions were adversely affected.
The pharma sector supply chain has been deeply affected by COVID-19. The lack of visibility across the distribution channel has hindered the flow of information pertaining to inventory, dispatch and general market feedback to gauge shortage or hoarding of essential drugs. There have been many instances of counterfeit drugs and medical essentials flooding the market, which add to the complexities. All these challenges collectively pointed towards the importance of protecting supply chains and preparing them to be flexible enough to support a sudden surge in production to match the ongoing demands.
At a global level, a significant shift in raw material sourcing is expected to happen with manufacturers increasing their dependency on regional sourcing rather than international. This will further lead to a rise in the demand for regional logistics hubs, thus, complicating the existing complex supply chains and creating a need for more transparent yet optimised supply chains.
Supply chain issues can be addressed through the use of next-gen technologies to gain better visibility and timely reach to the end-users to avoid any demand-supply gap. In the post-pandemic scenario, manufacturers need to build robust and resilient supply chains that offer transparency around product movement till the time they reach their end consumers and also promote partnership among various supply chain participants.
Through IoT and supply chain visibility platforms, manufacturers can gain visibility into their supply chains, thus, helping them make critical business decisions. SaaS providers are offering platforms that are based on next-gen technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) which help to digitise, optimise and automate supply chains. They also allow pharma companies to improve visibility into their supply chain, particularly during secondary and tertiary sales. In addition, these platforms help in tackling counterfeiting by empowering clients’ customers while also efficiently engaging their retailers.