A Pharmaceutical Company's View on Supply-Chain Security: A Perspective from Pfizer - Pharmaceutical Technology

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A Pharmaceutical Company's View on Supply-Chain Security: A Perspective from Pfizer
The author offers perspectives on ways in which pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders in the supply chain can confront the threat of counterfeit products, cargo theft, illegal diversion, and economically motivated adulteration.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 35, Issue 9

Pfizer's supply-chain security strategy

That approach is exactly the direction Pfizer is taking. The company looks at supply-chain security holistically and integrates and aligns the efforts of all the related organizations across the company in a comprehensive approach for solving the problem. The company no longer work in silos. Instead, Pfizer focuses on connecting all the dots in the supply-chain continuum, so its supply chain is aligned with maximum effectiveness .

Pfizer's approach when developing its strategy was three-pronged and driven by a focus on operational excellence. First, the company understood the threats, mapped its current state, and developed a future state map to optimize its program. Through this approach, we identified 15 organizations and more than 100 business processes within Pfizer that directly affect the security of its supply chain. As a result of this process, the company has been able to more fully understand the strengths and weakness across its supply chain.

For example, Pfizer created a dedicated supply-chain security function within its manufacturing organization and instituted a standing cross-company supply-chain security team responsible for strategic direction, program management, and continuous improvement. Because supply-chain security threats are constantly evolving and the regulatory landscape is rapidly changing, the company needs to be agile and flexible so that it can provide an effective response.

Industry opportunities

For Pfizer, the process of developing and deploying an integrated supply-chain security strategy has required the company to target a number of internal and external areas of focus. Included among them are: better integrated security and logistics requirements within the company's supplier quality-management processes; increased supply-chain visibility and control; global deployment of standards and best practices; improved oversight of external logistics providers; and more effective management of global serialization initiatives. Perhaps no point is worth stressing more than collaboration. The company is committed to improving its internal capabilities while also strengthening external supply-chain partnerships with regulators, law enforcement, suppliers, and industry groups.

Given the increasingly complex pharmaceutical supply chain, a collaborative approach by pharmaceutical companies within their own organizations, with each other, and across the industry is absolutely essential to win this war. And win it we must, not just for the good of the businesses that pharmaceutical companies support but—more importantly—for the safety of the patients who depend upon drug products.

Brian Johnson is senior director of supply chain security at Pfizer.

Read more from Johnson about supply chain security


1. WHO, "Counterfeit Fact Sheet" (Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 14, 2006), http://www.who.int/medicines/services/counterfeit/impact/ImpactF_S/en/index.html, accessed Aug. 15, 2010.

2. J. Irish, "Customs Group to Fight $200 Billion Bogus Drug Industry," Reuters, June 10, 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/06/10/us-customs-drugs-idUSTRE65961U20100610, accessed Aug. 15, 2011.

3. A. Keteyian, "Inside the World of Cargo Hijacking," CBS News (New York, Oct. 25, 2010), http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6990685n, accessed Aug. 15, 2010.

For additional insight from Brian Johnson on supply-chain security, see "Addressing Ways to Improve Supply-Chain Security" in the September 2011 issue of Pharmaceutical Technology.


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