Managing the Digital Supply Chain in an Increasingly Interconnected World

Life sciences supply chain partnerships are accelerating at a dramatic rate – to the point where the partnership chain is becoming tighter and tighter. Today, companies maintain numerous links between procurement functions through the points of disbursement. Partnerships are growing between competitors, between pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, between distributors and pharmacies, and between pharmacies and the end users.

By Rick Ruiz, Partner, CSC Life Sciences

This increased network interlock and the rise of the digital supply chain creates opportunity but it also adds risk, particularly with regards to security. As more stakeholders become part of the overall supply chain, life sciences companies need to know that their data is not being exposed to or used by unauthorized third parties. Equally, it’s important to know that every part of the supply chain adheres to strict regulatory requirements. Security is therefore crucial.

Global Traceability

As the supply chain expands, so does the creation of new data. A digitized supply chain enhances visibility and traceability about product location, which is generated from serialization data for track and trace across both the internal supply chain and with external partners. In addition, unstructured or social network information can also be gathered and generated for further insights.

All this data can be fed into analytics solutions to derive business insights as to where promotional activities or additional security efforts should be focused. For example, a company may have a primary product in certain supply chains and secondary or even tertiary products in another supply chain channel. If those tertiary products are going to less-secure markets – perhaps due to greater risk of theft or counterfeiting – it may be necessary to place increased emphasis on risk management of that product to protect the company’s brand.

Being IDMP Ready

The advent of Identification of Medicinal Products (IDMP) will have a profound impact on supply chain management.

Ultimately, IDMP will enable regulators – and companies – to identify every unique product down to the bottle level. Detailed traceability has been the goal of the Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) data-exchange standard, but IDMP takes that even further, and in theory companies should be able to trace every product, anywhere in the world if they adopt a master data management approach in preparing for IDMP.

Responding to the Challenges

In the new digital supply chain, life sciences companies must find more comprehensive and reliable ways to manage security risks, track and trace their product, use data from serialization to improve global oversight, and take advantage of the data granularity that IDMP will enable.

Important considerations will be whether the tools in place for managing the supply chain provide real-time visual insights into where a product is at any given time – from procurement all the way through to disbursement. Another priority should be the ability to feed data analytics from serialization into a tool to gain insights into what the company needs to do to protect its products and reputation – not to mention the patients who use these products. And thirdly, as IDMP becomes reality, being able to take advantage of the granularity of data collected will provide a significant advantage in managing the supply chain globally.

If you are attending the CSC Client Conference in Orlando, Florida, from September 18 to 22, please join the Life Sciences presentation, The Digital Supply Chain with OmniLocation on Monday, September 19.

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