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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Life Line

PMPS: What attracted you to the healthcare logistics industry?

Melanie Hall: My previous role in sales and marketing within the manufacturing sector made me increasingly aware of how fundamental the supply chain is to the launch and success of a product within a chosen marketplace. I started to become more engaged with channel development, so when the first opportunity within healthcare logistics came up with NHS Supply Chain Development, this seemed like a natural step. The industry is very personally engaging, and the strong relationship you are able to have with customers on healthcare-related issues and developments is hard to leave.

Which part of your job do you most enjoy?

My favourite aspect is the engagement with customers and patients. I have the honour of meeting individuals who receive DHL’s services either directly or indirectly and whose lives can often be changed signifi cantly by our services. Dealing with patients through our home delivery and patient transport services is a humbling experience, and our work with the pharmaceutical industry is both complex and exciting. The engagement part of our services is not only the most critical, but also the most rewarding.

And which is the most challenging?

The most challenging, but equally most interesting, part of my job is helping to change the common perception that healthcare logistics is just warehousing and transport. The industry offers so much variety – spanning a range of functions – and supports services from line feed operations into a manufacturing line, right through to working with pharmacy businesses to improve how their drivers gather informatics to enable better outcomes. It is all about the opportunity to influence and add value.

How would you describe your business philosophy?

Caring is the core to my business philosophy. Caring for your customers, your people, your business and your communities allows you to get the very best from these resources and relationships. If you do not care about what you do, you cannot provide a platform upon which to invest and build quality services that ultimately enable the business to grow, both in terms of the bottom line and market share.

What would you say are the key issues currently influencing pharmacy supply chain strategy?


The global life sciences and healthcare (LSH) industry is at a turning point. It is becoming more specialised and fragmented, with wider product ranges, more expensive products, solution sets, temperature control requirements and the increasing demand for home delivery. The traditional and established LSH supply chain model is not built to deliver the agility, flexibility, cost reduction and resilience required in this new environment. Simply put, a new, leaner, more resilient chain is vital for future success, and partnerships between manufacturers, hospitals, logistics providers – and even patients – are essential.

What are the practical implications of new customs requirements and policy breaches?


We are seeing an increasingly stringent demand for regulatory compliance, which has the potential to carry significant financial and reputational penalties, as well as a growing demand to move into emerging markets that are potentially more complex. It is therefore vital for a logistics business to have strong governance structures and codes of conduct in place to allow for a safer and more resilient service offering. A global logistics partner can provide a centre of expertise on import and border regulations, and help LSH businesses navigate these complex legal requirements and local practices.

To what extent is web connectivity and e-commerce affecting the field?

This varies between geographies but, broadly speaking, e-commerce is having a huge infl uence on the field. One short-term example is the impact of internet technology and the ability to source drugs online. Where does the local pharmacy sit in the world of tomorrow? Will it follow the same journey as a local bank branch? The market is facing ever-greater numbers of counterfeit drugs, and therefore a higher risk to the supply chain, which is why it needs to be more resilient than ever.

The questions and challenges that exist now will be the way of the future. The next generation will change how we combine healthcare logistics with e-commerce, and the true impact will be hard to predict before then.

What do you think the industry needs to focus on in 2015 and beyond?

Beyond the EU, emerging markets such as India are where legislation and regulations are prone to fast changes, which of course demands responsive action from distributors. Some emerging markets simply lack any regulatory bodies at all. Logistics providers need to have a shared goal of best practice to deliver purity, potency and stability of every medicine across the world. It is also vital to have a level of alignment, systems and infrastructure to help develop these regulations.

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Having formerly been Customer and Service Development Director with the NHS Logistics Authority, Melanie Hall joined DHL in 2006 as Sales and Marketing Director for NHS Supply Chain, before progressing through a series of managerial roles. She took on leadership of the DHL Life Sciences UK business division in 2013, providing services to the pharma, medical device and healthcare industry.
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