When you need a prescription from your doctor for medication, you usually don’t have much of an idea of how the entire process works. From the creation of the medicine you need to it being available at a local pharmacy, this is called a pharmaceutical supply chain. It’s the way the prescription medications are delivered to patients in one piece. The pharmaceutical market is evolving at a rapid rate, and with more drug therapies and costly medications out there with shorter life cycles, the pharmaceutical supply chain is becoming more complex.
The production of a new medicine is only the very first step in getting it to the person who requires the prescription; it’s one of the most complex logistical chains around the world, and it’s not cheap. The investment in medicines is not just about the medicine we buy, but our ability to access them. With a reliable supply chain, we have better healthcare costs and an improvement in patient care.
How Drugs Are Delivered Around The World
From the very point drugs are produced to the moment they hit retail pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers are managing distribution and logistics. Wholesale distributors are the biggest purchasers of pharmaceuticals, and they can be delivered to specialty pharmacies, hospitals, and even the government purchasers out there.
The Complexities Of The Supply Chain
The whole process, from drug development to the healthcare providers who receive the drugs, is all going through some massive changes. The introduction of digital into the healthcare industry has started, with trading partners able to identify and remove any counterfeit drugs that have made their way into the supply chain. With existing strategies being evaluated and improved, there will be an overhaul across the board. Temperature-sensitive drugs and biologics require refrigeration and specialist handling, which means that the whole chain is shifting to adapt to the new drugs on the market. This takes time and planning to ensure that this works seamlessly and without interruption to those in receipt of the drugs the most.
How Does The Supply Chain Work
Let’s take a look at the supply chain and how it works:
- The pharmaceutical supply chain begins with raw materials and finishes with a patient being able to purchase the product at the store.
- Products don’t go directly from the manufacturer to store, but they make many stops along the way. There are challenges and procedures at each step, and if you know the supply chain for the product, you can help to ensure that it’s delivered on time. You can also use the schedules for pricing and ordering to ensure the product gets there on time.
- Manufacturing and packaging of medicines happen across multiple sites, and once the materials for the medication are delivered, the final product is created in pieces.
- A different manufacturer then assembles these pieces and puts them together.
- Completed products go to yet another place for packaging and further shipping.
- Shipping then takes place to the right stores and hospitals.
The supply chain is complicated, but it’s changing.