The pharma industry is showing a significant revamp in 2022. The industry is traditionally slow at adopting technology owing to regulatory reasons of health and safety but is now undergoing massive changes due to the advancement in several technologies. The pharma industry is adopting digitized supply chain management solutions driven by critical factors increasing the value and complexity of the supply chain ecosystem. For instance, the rise of novel techniques for vaccines and biologics requires specific materials and temperature conditions for proper packing and transport and visibility and transparency is needed at all times.

On an average day, the pharmaceutical industry manages millions of shipments globally. In 2022 and beyond, the industry will have to contend with an increase in raw materials and finished product costs and a lack of qualified professionals. To combat these issues and maintain their competitive standing in the global market, Pharma Supply Chain leaders will need to consider innovative procurement & operations management approaches that consider new global trade policies and competition from emerging markets. Pharma Supply Chain professionals will need to re-evaluate their business strategies and assess how they can optimize operations by leveraging Big Data, Digital Technology, and Analytics.

Before looking at the issues and how to overcome them, it is essential to understand what exactly a supply chain is. A basic five-step process includes manufacturing, sourcing, transporting/shipping, distribution, and retailing. This article discusses how pharmaceutical supply chains should evolve in the coming years to meet the challenges of global pharma expansion while simultaneously providing a sustainable business model.

Pharmaceutical companies will have to manage supply and demand in a much more agile way to create and deliver value and address long-term sustainability challenges. It will be enabled by leveraging new technologies such as IoT, AI, and blockchain for more micro-managed intelligent systems (in supply chain management), which will help companies better predict market demands and react quickly. These supply chain trends indicate that pharma companies should not think of outsourcing as merely moving work away from themselves but rather transform their relationship into a strategic partnership where each party shares responsibility for bringing new ideas to the table.

This blog offers insight into the future for Pharma executives looking to transform tomorrow's supply chain while preparing for the changes that are already taking place today.

How do Shifts in Supply and Demand Impact the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The pharmaceutical industry faces several issues and challenges regarding agility and automation in their process with no room for mistakes. In this digital era, pharma companies are focusing on finding alternative ways to secure transparency, responsiveness, and visibility to stay competitive.

The pharma manufacturing global market has reached $405.52 billion by 2020 and is expected to grow higher. According to Deloitte’s report, pharmaceutical companies are interested in evolving customers’ attitudes to bring significant transformation. 70% of surveyed pharma clients wished that the drug development process should be the most influenced by intelligent technologies in 2022 like natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.  

Let's look at the top 8 pharma supply chain trends that will ultimately be of greater interest in the future.

  1. On-Demand Delivery
    Healthcare on-demand is growing sharply with the rise of technology as many online home care providers are offering on-demand distribution services. The trend of getting healthcare services at home gained popularity during the pandemic and it’s still rising because of its enhanced accessibility and convenient treatment possibilities. Point-of-care diagnostics, online pharmacies, and remote monitoring are expected to grow further in 2022 and beyond.

    Life sciences and pharma companies can scale up or down based on customer demands in an agile manner with an on-demand distribution process. This type of service will promote sharing a personalized healthcare experience that every customer demands. New patterns in the pharmaceutical sector now have direct-to-patient delivery models for drug delivery and diagnostic purposes. Some companies also introduced subscription programs, making it feasible for everyone to get the right prescription at the right time. Moreover, industries strive to launch direct-to-hospital, direct-to-pharmacy and B2B eCommerce models to ensure timely delivery and order fulfillment. An EDI (electronic data interchange) capable B2B integration platform can assist pharma businesses in approaching the full potential of these emerging models. With B2B integration platforms, companies can communicate with the trading partner at all levels in supply chains to ensure a trusted distribution recycling.

  2. Packaging Automation
    Smart manufacturing is the automation of the whole packaging process. The machines should be intelligent enough to deliver real-time diagnostic and monitoring information with simple integration and quick data processing. Smart manufacturing depends on enterprise size for adapting several solutions, including cloud-based systems, AI, ML, big data architectures and robotics.

    Improving the packaging process will potentially reduce product labeling errors and ultimately reduce consumer risks. Plus, automation in the pharmaceutical process is cost-effective and saves both money and time, prevents threats and boosts productivity with operational flexibility.

  3. Strategic Partnerships
    The pandemic brought together the investors of the pharma supply chain. In the past, manufacturers worked with API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) manufacturers to maximize output as they (manufacturers) were in close relationship with hospital management to understand their demands better. This diminishes medicines’ stockout issue as every hospital was getting the required medicines based on historic predictions.

    Trust development in the pharmaceutical industry can take decades to form due to the closed and highly regulated nature of the industry and sensitive patient information that business holders manage. Historically, the need to protect patient's data from customers has resulted in a growing gap between manufacturers and service providers. When each shareholder can share data or limitations with others, it clearly shows genuine cooperation and how to use resources to focus on the patient's best interests.

  4. Increased Reliance on Artificial Intelligence
    Warehouses are implementing innovative technology solutions faster than ever in the post pandemic world that demands speed and accuracy. Increased use of AI and automation is not just about efficiency and precision but also the workforce. Many pharmaceutical companies face a labor shortage, and it is the best opportunity to shift workload to automation which minimizes the dependency on the human workforce. The last few years after the pandemic have highlighted the importance of technology in supply chain processes.

  5. Blockchain Tackles Counterfeit Medicine
    Blockchain technology is a significant consideration for the pharma industry at every step from production to distribution of drugs. Blockchain technology has the capability to detect counterfeit and low-standard medicines that enter the pharmaceutical supply chain and causing harm to many patients every year. Its efficiency in digitizing transactions makes it extremely efficient for securely tracking the pharmaceutical transaction process.

  6. End-to-End Data Traceability
    The pharmaceutical industry’s thirst for data is nothing new, but organizations have leveraged artificial intelligence and big data to improve the speed and efficiency demanded by the pandemic in the last few years. Data enables experts to make better decisions to deliver medicines to the patient on time. Hospital data about the frequency of doctors' specific medicine recommendations also enables pharmacists to build better forecasting models according to the consumer response. It might be based on changing or updating the medicine formula rather than historical data. Data scientists add value along the way to help pharmaceutical manufacturers extract meaningful insights from data to save costs, improve forecasts and prioritize patient health.

  7. Better Control over Supplier Risks
    It's almost impossible in the pharmaceutical supply chain to avoid some risks. Business holders should take steps for better risk management with advancements in manufacturing technology and artificial intelligence to respond to disruption.

    Many pharma industries, including Sanofi, are making significant investments. Sanofi collaborated with Exscientia, an AI organization, for new research. This collaboration will concentrate on 15 innovative small molecules in oncology and immunology. Exscientia's end-to-end AI-powered platform will use actual patient samples to speed up drug discovery while minimizing risks. Frank, Global Head of Research and Chief Scientific Officer at Sanofi explained.

    "The application of sophisticated AI and machine learning models will not only shorten drug discovery timelines but will also help to design higher quality and better targeted medicines for patients."

    Throughout the pandemic, a shortage of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) supply and logistical constraints have led to an expansion in domestic manufacturing. It allows companies to inspect any liabilities in the supply chain domestically with greater control. Even though significant processes continue to occur globally, international suppliers are under rising pressure to increase visibility to compete in a domestic market for greater transparency.

  8. Resilience in Supply Chain
    A resilient supply chain comes with bearing resistance capacity and recovery. Many pharma industries are at a standstill attempting to discover methods to collaborate with suppliers to boost their organization's productivity due to the dependency on poor continuity planning and single-source suppliers. It is necessary to overcome supply chain bottlenecks to continue supporting patients. Initiatives like HIRC (Healthcare Industry Resilience Collaborative) go a long way by offering critical performance indicators on improving resiliency for manufacturers.

    Equipped with the greater demand and better tech of today, the pharma industry is definitely picking up the pace of innovation to meet the demands of high quality medical care and the healthcare sector now is one of the highest consumer of the latest in IT technologies.


This information is being provided ‘As Is’ with no claims of suitability for a particular purpose. It represents just one possible interpretation of information available in the public domain or through membership organizations, partners and that interpretation is subject to change. This information does not constitute legal advice. Users must refer to the source material for the complete requirements and form their own interpretation before making business decisions.

Please use the references below to follow the updates at the source.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Market Size from Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Market Size Report, 2021-2028 (

Pharmaceutical Industry Trends from Pharmaceutical industry trends | Deloitte Insights

How Technology Could Transform Drug Research in 2022 from How technology could transform drug research in 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

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