Is the pharma supply chain a lost cause
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IS THE PHARMA SUPPLY-CHAIN A LOST CAUSE?. Hedley Rees Managing Consultant PharmaFlow Ltd. AGENDA. Why am I so passionate about the Pharma supply chain? What has been going on in the supply-chain? How did it get into all this trouble? Modernization – the route to salvation?

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Is the pharma supply chain a lost cause


Hedley Rees

Managing Consultant

PharmaFlow Ltd



  • Why am I so passionate about the Pharma supply chain?

  • What has been going on in the supply-chain?

  • How did it get into all this trouble?

  • Modernization – the route to salvation?

  • What COULD the future hold?

Why am i so passionate about this subject

Why am I so passionate about this subject?

My three phases of enlightenment

My three phases of enlightenment

Life in big Pharma

Life in biotech

Life as an independent

Life in big pharma

Life in big Pharma

  • Why did we do it that way?

  • Why is it so difficult to change anything?

  • Why the scepticism of modern improvement methods?

  • What is underneath it all?

Life in biotech

Life in biotech

  • Why are they starting at the wrong end?

    .…and who’s doing the sourcing strategy?

  • Does anyone knows where all the inventory is?

    ....and what condition it is in?

  • Who is looking after transportation and storage?

    ….what to you mean ‘I am’!?

  • They think I’m in charge of shopping too!

    ….but carry on regardless

Life as an independent

Life as an independent

  • All dressed up and nowhere to go…

  • The Milton Park experience

    • My glucose buddy

    • My needle free injection buddy

  • Accepting the inevitable

  • Enlightenment reigns

Pharma starts at the wrong end

Pharma starts at the wrong end…

Information information information

Information, information, information….

What has been going on in the supply chain

What has been going on in the supply-chain?

Pharma as it was and now is

Pharma as it was, and now is…

  • 1970s

    • Vertical integration

    • Local presence in the country market

    • Mainly small molecule

  • 2010s

    • innovator, virtual, biotech, generic/bio-similars, speciality Pharma

    • Biologics

    • Markets and supply locations globalize

The vicious circle of outsourcing

The vicious circle of outsourcing

Innovations cost ‘real’ money


Control over lead times

Tactical, arms length

Price escalation from lock-in

Opportunities for error

Dis integration of the supply chain

Dis-integration of the supply chain

Outsourcing begins in earnest…..

Integrity issues

Integrity issues…

  • Economically motivated adulteration – “Heparin, supplied by Baxter, found to be adulterated, with reports of 574 adverse events and nine patient deaths estimated

  • J&J/McNeil placed under a ‘Consent Decree’ after numerous recalls associated with supply chain issues.

  • Novartis shells out hundreds of millions $ in manufacturing issues

  • Shortages in US/EU supply chains result in governments, patient advocacy and general public searching questions.

Security issues

Security issues…..

  • Cargo theft and diversion –

    • “Abbott hit by $4m diagnostics theft in USA” (June 2011)

    • “Eli Lilly warehouse thieves make off with $76m haul” (March 2011)

  • Counterfeiting – “Operation Singapore, largest counterfeit operation in EU, where 2 million doses of counterfeit medicine enter UK supply chain in 2006/7”.

  • “FDA is still concerned that the drug supply is increasingly vulnerable to diversion of legitimate drugs (drugs illegally circulated outside the legal distribution system ie stolen or sold illegally) and concerned about the influx of counterfeit drugs- as both present significant risks to public health”. Rx-360 Newsletter September 28 2011

The fall out

The fall-out….

  • Crippling impacts in the areas of patient safety, brand image and reputation, costs of remediation, customer service and investor confidence.


  • From regulators, governments, other competent authorities and patient advocacy groups.

What has been the response

What has been the response?

  • …EU implements Falsified Medicines Directive.

  • …EMA consults on dramatic tightening of GDP/GMP

  • …FDA pens “Pathway to Global Safety and Quality”.

  • …US Congressional Committees investigate.

  • …President Obama wades in on drug shortages.

  • …US Pharmacopeia consults on new Chapter < 1083 >.

  • …PEW Charitable Trust writes report “After Heparin”.

  • …GS1 Global Traceability Standard for Healthcare

  • …FDA Safety and Innovation Act, Title VII

How did it get into all this trouble

How did it get into all this trouble?

The patent starting pistol

The patent ‘starting pistol’


The starting pistol initiates behaviours aimed at reducing financial impact of failures and preparing for a race to approval

The find it file it flog it approach

The find it, file it, flog it approach….


…seems to be

…seems to be

Is it safe?

Is it active?

Let’s get into the clinic – FAST!

…better make some for tox studies then….

Enter the patent fairy

Enter the patent fairy…

Better make a batch for pre-clinical then

Bye byemy baby

Hope she realises I’ll be watching her…

Making enough for pre clinical

Making enough for pre-clinical

Supply chain thinking?

Typical issues emerging

Typical issues emerging…

Analytical Methods not adequate.

Shipping/storage conditions not adequately defined.

Incorrect value declarations to customs.

Poor contractor relationships.

Channel management not considered.

…the list goes on, and on, and…..

Scarce/bespoke materials specified.

Limited sourcing options (starting materials and API)

Inappropriate dosage forms.

Contractors with insufficient capacity or capability.

Poor process yields.

Weak compliance with technical agreements.

Severe disconnection between sponsor company and it’s supply chain ‘partners’ due to supply chain neglect.

Modernization the route to salvation

Modernization – the route to salvation?

The 21 st century initiative

The 21st Century Initiative

  • Pharmaceutical cGMP’s for the 21st Century – A Risk-Based Approach:

  • Started 2002 and reported late 2004

  • Desired state:

    “A maximally efficient, agile, flexible pharmaceutical manufacturing sector withoutextensive regulatory oversight.”

    Dr. Janet Woodcock, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Deputy Commissioner for Operations

Quality by design ich q8 and pat

Quality by Design (ICH Q8) and PAT

  • QbD Concepts

    • Quality should be built in by design

    • Focus on product knowledge and process understanding

    • Establishment of design space

  • Provide opportunities for flexible regulatory approaches

    • Risk-based regulatory decisions

    • Real-time quality control and less release testing

    • Process improvement within design space without further review

    • Reduction in post-approval submissions

  • PAT tools facilitates introduction of QbD

History of industrial improvement

History of industrial improvement

  • Industrial Engineering

  • Total Quality Management (TQM)

  • World Class Manufacturing (WCM)

  • Theory of Constraints (ToC)

  • Lean and 6 sigma

  • Toyota Production System (TPS)

  • Systems Thinking


Lean background

Lean background

  • NUMMI study, Womack & Jones “The Machine That Changed the World”

  • Based on Toyota Production System (TPS)

  • Reduce time between getting order and money in

    • Respect for people

    • Continuous improvement

  • Five principles

  • Many parallels with TQM, WCM, TOC, etc.

  • Relate to modernization

Five principles of lean

Five Principles of Lean

1. Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.

2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.

3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so that the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.

4. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.

5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, continue until a state of perfection is reached in which value is created with no waste.

Process village v value stream

Process Village v Value Stream

Traditional functional layout solid dose

Traditional functional layout– solid dose

Key points:

Large batches

Produce to forecast

High in-process inventory

Defects are hidden

Value stream alignment solid dose

Value stream alignment – solid dose

Key points:

Schedule pacemaker only.

Set rate at TAKT (Production rate required to match rate of consumption in the market place.

Pull from the pacemaker (Kanbans and supermarkets)

Solve production problems (A3 Management)

Take out variation (SPC).

Reduce defect rates on incoming materials.

Use Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) to reduce cycle time

What could the future hold

What COULD the future hold?

Overview of a development process

Overview of a development process




Principles of prototyping

Principles of Prototyping

  • Design prototype based on full stakeholder involvement, including marketing, manufacturing, procurement, key suppliers

  • Allocate overall management responsibility for the programme

  • Discovery research stays with prototype testing - iterative

  • Focus on manufacturability of compounds using predictive methods

  • Build a deep understanding of material and process capability

  • Institutionalise risk management into development programmes

  • Build an outline of the end-to-end supply chain

Principles of commercial supply

Principles of Commercial Supply

GMP/GDP mind-set from the start: Good Supply-chain Practice - GSP

Change emphasis from validation to process understanding/capability

Place responsibility for defective work on the producers not the quality function

Re-define the role of ‘quality’ into improvement activities

Deploy PAT

Become ‘business process’ oriented and quality systems aware

Institutionalise risk management into supply chain




Some radical concluding thoughts

Some radical concluding thoughts

  • Turn the development process on its head – put patient-use first

  • Don’t award patents for molecules until they are working prototypes

  • Supply chain for clinic and the market should be under one responsibility - with strong SCM competencies

  • Teach SCM principles at University to our chemists, pharmacists etc.

  • The IND/CTA CMC review process should require a higher level of understanding of the compound and it’s manufacturability

More radical concluding thoughts

More radical concluding thoughts

  • Companies intent on making a financial exit before commercialization should prove the supply chain foundation is sound

  • Big Pharma should demand supply chain integrity from the companies they do licensing deals with

  • Regulations won’t solve the issues, and in EU they are likely to make matters worse.

  • Big Pharma CEO’s must step up to the plate and make change happen – learn from Toyota’s handling of the ‘fo0t pedal’ incident (scientists eventually found no defects in Toyota vehicles and put it down to driver error)



If there are any further questions, you can get to me in a number of ways:

T: +44(0)1656 667710

M: +44(0)7718 884816

E: [email protected]




Supply Chain Management in the Drug Industry: Delivering Patient Value for Pharmaceuticals and Biologics

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