March 2017 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

Extending the Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Tags: 3PL, Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Third-Party Logistics, Supply Chain

Jeff Luthman is Vice President of Life Science Solutions, MD Logistics, 317-838-8900

In the life science and pharmaceutical area, an inefficient supply chain can cause serious problems including product degradation and late deliveries of life-saving medications. Third-party logistics (3PL) providers specialize in streamlining their customers' supply chains, merging logistics expertise with state-of-the-art innovations. While manufacturers search for ways to distinguish products in a competitive marketplace, many do so by partnering with 3PL providers, who offer value-added services that extend supply chain operations and maximize efficiency.

Q: In what ways has the pharmaceutical supply chain evolved to meet increasing demand?

A: In order for supply chains to remain efficient in a changing pharmaceutical industry, buyers and manufacturers are moving from a transactional to a process focus. Extending the pharmaceutical supply chain for special projects has become increasingly common. Some innovative 3PLs have evolved to offer the following service offerings:

  • Insourced Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI): Insourcing VMI allows 3PLs to use their expertise, technology and infrastructure to solve customers' internal problems.
  • Repackaging and relabeling: 3PL providers licensed by the Food and Drug Administration are able to relabel and repackage pharmaceuticals, ensuring the provider can adhere to crucial manufacturing protocols, protecting the product's integrity.
  • Kitting: 3PL providers can seamlessly integrate required supplementary materials as a value-added kitting solution into their regular warehousing and handling services.
  • Serialization: Innovative 3PLs are in front of 2017 and 2023 serialization mandates, offering customized packaging and delivery solutions to easily integrate manufacturer-serialized units into the distribution process.
  • Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ): FTZ status allows imported product arriving at a U.S. port to be immediately moved to secure facilities without waiting for customs clearance, a significant advantage when dealing with the delivery of sensitive pharmaceuticals.

Q: What are some of the benefits in adopting innovative approaches to the pharmaceuticals supply chain?

A: By extending customers' pharmaceutical supply chain through value-added services, 3PLs are building the foundations of a mutually beneficial relationship. There are many benefits in adopting innovative approaches to the life sciences and pharmaceuticals supply chain.

  • Cost optimization: Partnering with a 3PL to integrate special projects into existing supply chain operations mitigates costs associated with developing and implementing new services.
  • Flexibility: 3PL providers have the flexibility to integrate value-added projects as natural extensions of existing supply chains, ultimately growing them into long-term, value-added services.
  • Scalability: 3PLs have an unmatched ability to scale and repurpose labor to address any time-sensitive needs such as recalls, relabeling or fulfillment.
  • Responsiveness and Resourcefulness: 3PLs provide a ready and available workforce that can be flexed and scaled to meet a customer's needs in a timely manner as well as manage labor and handle additional requirements.