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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Industry Insight

These days, it seems there is constant and increasing pressure within the industry to control costs and improve efficiencies – demands which apply equally as much to the storage and distribution of medical supplies as to development and manufacturing activities.

Indeed, this atmosphere of change experienced in the global pharma distribution supply chain was highlighted recently by Privett and Gonsalvez (1). Discussing the top ten concerns, they stated that “lack of coordination in [this] supply chain is a root cause issue whose existence aggravates nearly every other issue directly or indirectly”.

Visibility and control throughout the supply chain are crucial, and yet one of the most signifi cant problems facing the industry is the infiltration of counterfeit medicines on the market. A disturbing statistic from the WHO puts this into context: 34 million counterfeit tablets were removed from circulation in Europe in just a two-month period in 2009. To address this, pharmaceutical packaging and labelling is becoming ever-more sophisticated to prevent copying by counterfeiters. In addition, within Europe, the Guidelines on Good Distribution Practice (2013/C 68/01) and the EU Falsified Medicines Directive have defined standard practices for controlling the supply chain – from manufacturer to patient.

However, counterfeits have now become commonplace in developing territories, particularly across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where controls are less rigorous over the sourcing, storage and distribution of medicines. It has been estimated that as much as 30% of drugs in these regional markets could be fake.

Several articles in this latest edition of PMPS relate to initiatives which are helping organisations adjust and manage the increasing demands of the global health supply chain. The changing requirements for the distribution of medical products are explored in separate contributions by Susanne Amholt at DHL and World Courier's Stanley Soh.

Elsewhere, Maria D’Orazio of Novartis Vaccines describes the importance of building relationships with supply partners and adhering to Good Distribution Practice. Meanwhile, the changes within cool chain logistics, with organisations considering use of sea rather than air freight to reduce costs, are scrutinised by Alan Kennedy at PartnerSave, who also touches on the merits of single-use data loggers.

Turning attention to supply chain visibility and control, Shruthi Parakkal from Frost & Sullivan considers how the use of radio-frequency identification smart cabinets can boost confidence in the integrity of the supply chain.

What is already a full and thoughtful edition also features a special supplement on parenteral technologies. Produced ahead of the PDA Europe conference, The Universe of Pre-filled Syringes and Injection Devices, in November, it outlines the diverse developments in this product sector. For example, Catalent Pharma Solutions’ Bill Hartzel makes the case for blow-fill-seal technology for single-use sterile products; and Chris Evans at West Pharmaceutical Services examines how linking apps to drug delivery devices can improve patient adherence to the correct use of their medication.

1. Privett N and Gonsalvez D, The top ten global health supply chain issues: Perspectives from the field, Op Res Health Care 3: pp226-230, 2014

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