Post-blockbuster era drives ops reform

Business consultancy PwC has peered into its crystal ball and viewed a pharma supply chain so different from today's, it involves a numbers game just to match chain type with manufacturer. The matching challenge exists to some extent today, of course. But the consultancy sees pharma ops entering an era of new math.

It identifies six trends in drug manufacturing and distribution, three factors altering the supply chain and four restructuring scenarios. And most companies will have to manage more than one scenario, concludes Pharma 2020: Supplying the future.

Among the six trends is growth in new product types--biologics, bioengineered vaccines and stem-cell-based treatments--as a proportion of supply chain traffic, relative to longer-stability small molecule drugs. Another trend is the incremental product launch, a big departure from the blockbuster-based supply chain model. Drug licenses that require ongoing testing rather than the all-or-nothing four-phase approval process will call for greater ops adaptability. Healthcare reform's emphasis on patient outcomes stands to be another game-changer.

More fragmented supply chains will become a means of market differentiation, according to the report. Upstream data flows will control product and service delivery, driven by information transfers among pharma company, patient and healthcare provider.

And supply chain restructuring scenarios range from specialty drugmakers becoming virtual manufacturers through outsourcing to mass-market manufacturing experts positioned as high-volume, low-cost providers. Some of the latter will turn their supply chains into profit centers.

- here's the PwC release