Flevy Blog is an online business magazine covering Business Strategies, Business Theories, & Business Stories.

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Reinvention

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Healthcare Business Capability Model (1-page PDF document). A business capability model for a Healthcare company. To be used as a core document for Enterprise Architects and EA work. Also very valuable to Business Architects and Business Architecture projects/programmes.

* * * *

Majority of pharmaceutical companies are persisting with decade old processes and routines.  They have transactional relationships with suppliers, lack of concerted efforts to progress ahead, and no vision to reap productivity rewards.  The reasons for continuing with these traditional practices include tax regimes, regulatory hurdles, and stable revenues from customers dependent on existing industry offerings.

Disruption—spurred by technological Innovation, fluctuating customer demand patterns, and more agile and creative competitors—has forced the pharmaceutical sector to think of ways to face these challenges, survive, and thrive.  One of the strategic response to this competitive disruption—by leading manufacturers—is to reexamine their manufacturing operations, embracing agile principles, reducing costs, revolutionizing procurement and distribution functions, and striving to achieve Operational Excellence.  Above all, they view their supply chain not as a cost center, but as a source of Competitive Advantage.

The increasing influence of generic drugs is another challenge for large multinational pharmaceuticals.  In the past, multinational companies (MNCs) dominated the market owing to possessing a number of high-market drugs protected under patents.  Patent protection afforded them the leverage to set high prices on each product.  The scenario is fast changing.  Expiry of high-market drugs patents is creating a huge opening for generic competitors and the space is widening compared to the past.

In the past, pharma manufacturers were able to counter the threat to generic competitors by developing new drugs.  However, this is becoming difficult and the new drugs pipeline is shrinking with time.  R&D expenditure has continuously gone up, however, drug approval from the authorities has not kept paced with it.  It has rather declined, straining the MNCs further.

Other disruptive factors include newer distribution methods, public health plans favoring generic drugs over proprietary ones due to cost effectiveness, the newer internet / mail delivery options displacing traditional pharmacy dispensing options.  Pharmacy chains—e.g. Walgreens—have given a leverage to the retailers to negotiate reduction in medicine prices where again generics have an edge over MNCs.

Moreover, the trend of drugs purchased through a formal tender process is increasingly gaining acceptance, adding to the difficulties of large pharma manufacturers.  Additionally, strict regulations are minimizing the cost benefits that MNCs traditionally enjoyed in the past.

All these factors have forced the pharma companies to reorganize their Supply Chains in a more flexible manner to manage complexities, bring in efficiency, and contain costs to compete in off-patent segment with generics.

Reorganization of a conventional pharmaceutical Supply Chain into an Agile, flexible, and inexpensive Supply Chain warrants developing Operational Excellence and Cost Reduction competencies.  This necessitates 5 strategic steps (phases):

  1. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to SCM
  2. Develop Agile product design and packaging capabilities
  3. Restructure the Supply Chain footprint
  4. Establish partnerships with 3rd party suppliers
  5. Enhance planning capabilities

Let’s discuss these steps in detail.

Step 1 – Avoid a One-size-fits-all Approach to SCM

Large pharma MNCs typically maintain the Supply Chain of all of their drugs with a single strategy of retaining high inventory and service levels.  Such a strategy can only work for products having a high profit margin, in a static environment.  It is not suitable for low-margin products, contrasting environments, and does not take into account fluctuations in demand patterns.  An appropriate approach is to implement a multiple Supply Chains model based on individual products and markets.

Step 2 – Develop Agile Product Design and Packaging Capabilities

The 2nd step in Pharma Supply Chain Reinvention involves quick distribution of different versions of products to markets based on demand. For low-margin products with high demand volatility, the Supply Chain Management Strategy should be to employ Pack-to-Order system.  The Pack-to-Order approach involves developing a version of a product that could be timely dispatched to several markets of varying demand across the globe.  This approach coupled with Postponement Strategy—where products are packed to order during later stages of production based on regional demand—assists in trimming down the inventory, reducing complicatedness, and enhancing Supply Chain nimbleness to demand volatility.

Interested in learning more about how to reinvent your Pharmaceutical Supply Chain?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Reinvention here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.  Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market.  They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions.  I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power.  For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients.  In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over!  The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

10-slide PowerPoint presentation
ESG is the next big thing of consideration for the stakeholders and shareholders of any established business organization. This document provides key sustainability factors and their performance indicators with weightages for the Healthcare Industry including its subsectors. Majorly it covers: [read more]

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

322-slide PowerPoint presentation
Mastering Pharma Management: A Comprehensive Strategy Paper Unveiled In the ever-evolving landscape of the pharmaceutical industry, where innovation meets regulation and global health is paramount, understanding the intricacies of pharma management is the key to success. This 320+ slides [read more]

Excel workbook
65-slide PowerPoint presentation

About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Complimentary Business Training Guides

Many companies develop robust strategies, but struggle with operationalizing their strategies into implementable steps. This presentation from flevy introduces 12 powerful business frameworks spanning both Strategy Development and Strategy Execution. [Learn more]

  This 48-page whitepaper, authored by consultancy Envisioning, provides the frameworks, tools, and insights needed to manage serious Change—under the backdrop of the business lifecycle. These lifecycle stages are each marked by distinct attributes, challenges, and behaviors. [Learn more]

We've developed a very comprehensive collection of Strategy & Transformation PowerPoint templates for you to use in your own business presentations, spanning topics from Growth Strategy to Brand Development to Innovation to Customer Experience to Strategic Management. [Learn more]

  We have compiled a collection of 10 Lean Six Sigma templates (Excel) and Operational Excellence guides (PowerPoint) by a multitude of LSS experts. These tools cover topics including 8 Disciplines (8D), 5 Why's, 7 Wastes, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and DMAIC. [Learn more]
Recent Articles by Corporate Function






The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most of our articles are authored by management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience.

Flevy (https://flevy.com) is the marketplace for business best practices, such as management frameworks, presentation templates, and financial models. Our best practice documents are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier consulting firms (like McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, BCG, and Deloitte) and used by Fortune 100 organizations. Learn more about Flevy here.

Connect with Flevy:


About Flevy.com   /   Terms   /   Privacy Policy
© . Flevy LLC. All Rights Reserved.