Preparing for a Pandemic

August 3, 2020
Susan Haigney

Susan Haigney is managing editor of BioPharm International, susan.haigney@ubm.com.

Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-08-02-2020, Volume 44, Issue 8
Page Number: 17

Pharmaceutical Technology spoke with Matthew Woodcock, director of LLamasoft, a supply chain analytics company that assists companies in their decision-making and supply chain challenges, about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Pharmaceutical Technology spoke with Matthew Woodcock, director of LLamasoft, a supply chain analytics company that assists companies in their decision-making and supply chain challenges, about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the pharmaceutical supply chain.

PharmTech: How can pharmaceutical companies and contractors prepare for a crisis, such as a pandemic, when it comes to protecting the pharmaceutical supply chain?

Woodcock (LLamasoft): COVID-19 has demonstrated that we live in a world of the ‘never normal’. That is to say that there will always be unforeseen disruptions to the supply chain, and companies must be prepared for any eventuality. The traditional remedy is to hold extra inventory, in order to bridge a supply gap or a change in demand. As significant world events only seem to be happening more and more frequently, companies need to consider what level of stockpile they will need to maintain a constant supply of critical drugs.

However, stockpiles are no good in the mid to long-term. If organizations are to ensure that their supply chain is more resolute moving forward, they need to incorporate comprehensive risk management strategies into their supply chain decision-making. This should include, but is not limited to, creating optionality for sources of supply in case of single points of failure.

PharmTech: What tools specifically can be used to ensure the transparency of the supply chain?

Woodcock (LLamasoft): To ensure transparency across the entirety of the supply chain, it is imperative for companies to invest in the capabilities of advanced analytics. Leveraging this technology, companies can build organizational capability to drive decisions which allow them to cope with sudden shifts, such as COVID-19.

Recent advancements in analytics, algorithmic intelligence, and cloud computing are allowing organizations to rapidly experiment and model supply chains. This allows them to react quickly and effectively to supply or demand side shocks. Meanwhile, digital twin technology could allow companies to digitally replicate and test its emergency strategies. This means that in the event of a crisis they could efficiently organize their supply chain to produce an optimum output.

PharmTech: Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your services and/or the products you provide?

Woodcock (LLamasoft): COVID-19 has impacted almost every supply chain across the globe. For many companies, this has emphasized the ‘never normal’ nature of the global supply chain. Today the disruption is COVID-19, but tomorrow it could be Brexit, or trade wars. As a result, many companies are now seeking to manage risk within their supply chain more effectively. For example, one leading medical device company is now on a journey to enable a supply chain digital twin, allowing them to prepare for similar disruptions in the future. We anticipate that this moment in history will urge other companies to do the same.

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