Survey: Raw material link weakens supply chains

Pharma executives see complexity and risk in their ever-more-global supply chains. Chief among their concerns is visibility into partner activities.

For the 112 pharma, bio and medical device execs surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and life sciences analysis firm Axendia, globalization is their reality. Half say they see raw materials sourced outside the U.S. as the greatest vulnerability to the supply chain. And 61 percent cite contaminated and substandard raw materials as the top threat in the next five years.

There's a certain irony here--the executives are expressing operational worries. By contrast, the senior supply chain managers reporting to them expressed a more corporate-level concern in the UPS annual supply chain survey published in June--cost management.

In the PWC/Axendia study, 66 percent of the executives said they can access data from multiple locations to get a global view of supply chain activities. But to do so, they have to manually aggregate the data.

And 77 percent said their primary visibility to suppliers is a snapshot: periodic audits. Just 25 percent said they go beyond audits and actually share common practices and information with their suppliers.

The PWC/Axendia study agrees with the annual UPS study about the increasingly global nature of the supply chain. UPS respondents said their companies are pursuing global expansion plans, and cite the escalating complexity of regulatory requirements around the world as a major concern. In the PWC/Axendia study, 94 percent of the executives said that global product sales outside the U.S. will be increasing in the next few years; 78 percent said global sourcing outside the U.S. will be increasing; and 76 percent said manufacturing outside of the U.S. will be increasing.

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