Pharma Supply Chains: Adapting to Change and Embracing Sustainability | India Pharma Outlook

Pharma Supply Chains: Adapting to Change and Embracing Sustainability

Vickram Srivastava, Head of Planning, Global Supply Chain at Sun Pharma

 Vickram Srivastava, Head of Planning, Global Supply Chain at Sun Pharma

Vickram Srivastava, a seasoned supply chain professional holding a global MBA and a Mechanical Engineering background, possesses close to 2 decades of experience. Currently contributing significantly to Sun Pharma's global operations. He specializes in supply/demand planning, strategic sourcing, vendor development, and logistics, rendering him a valuable asset in the pharmaceutical sector.

The pharmaceutical sector has garnered significant attention, grappling with unparalleled challenges that have fundamentally altered the terrain of supply chain management. The far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale and an increased emphasis on sustainability and corporate responsibility have compelled pharmaceutical enterprises to meticulously reassess and overhaul their approaches to supply chain strategies. This on-going process involves a thorough re-evaluation and transformative measures to ensure adaptability in the face of dynamic industry demands and societal expectations.

Navigating Unprecedented Disruptions

In 2020, the global supply chain landscape, particularly within the pharmaceutical sector, experienced a transformative juncture. Unlike past disruptions, the pandemic-induced simultaneous cessation of both demand and supply underscored inherent vulnerabilities. The intricacies of the pharmaceutical supply chain, dependent on sourcing vital ingredients from nations such as China & Germany, encountered disruptions that reverberated throughout the industry. Challenges spanning procurement difficulties, manufacturing impediments, and demand uncertainties created a domino effect in the pharmaceutical sector. Consequently, there emerged a pressing need to pivot focus towards fortifying resilience in order to navigate the complex challenges that unfolded across the entirety of the supply chain.

Acknowledging the imperative for resilience, pharmaceutical firms initiated a proactive venture into process management and comprehensive business continuity planning. Prior to the pandemic, endeavours like business process reengineering and heightened agility measures were adopted, establishing the foundation for a more adaptable supply chain. However, in the aftermath of COVID-19, the focus pivoted towards crafting robust business continuity plans, recognizing the paramount importance of maintaining operations amidst unexpected disruptions. This strategic shift underscored the industry's commitment to fortifying its operational framework, ensuring sustained functionality in the dynamic landscape that emerged in the wake of the pandemic.

Sustainability and Responsibility

The pharmaceutical sector, characterized by stringent regulations akin to the nuclear and aviation industries, adopted an elevated sense of responsibility. Beyond mere regulatory adherence, there was a deliberate endeavour to engage with vendors dedicated to sustainable practices. This entailed a meticulous examination of supply chain processes for heightened transparency, the mitigation of carbon footprints, and alignment with values emphasizing social impact. The industry observed a departure from generic cooperation to intentional and conscientious collaboration among stakeholders, representing a substantial paradigm shift in supply chain dynamics. This conscious commitment to responsibility extended beyond the customary compliance measures, signalling a transformation in the pharmaceutical landscape towards a more ethically driven and environmentally conscious approach, where corporate values and sustainable practices emerged as pivotal considerations in the intricate web of pharmaceutical supply chain management.

The evolution of supply chain methodologies witnessed the pivotal role of technology as a transformative facilitator. Incorporating Industry 4.0, Blockchain, IoT, and cloud-based tools instigated a profound metamorphosis in decision-making protocols. The implementation of real-time data analytics bestowed organizations with the capability to execute prompt and astute decisions, thereby securing the resilience and endurance of supply chains. Technology, once perceived as a disruptive force, transcended that notion to become an indispensable element in the realm of organizational triumph. It seamlessly integrated into the core of operational success, no longer a mere disruptor but an essential driver ensuring the efficiency, adaptability, and sustainability of supply chains in an ever-evolving business landscape.

While acknowledging the transformative influence of technology, a notable challenge lies in talent management. To harness the full potential of technological advancements, there is a requisite for investment in the training and cultivation of human expertise. Providing individuals with the proficiencies to navigate intricate global supply chains remains imperative, underscoring the significance of seamlessly integrating advanced tools with a proficient workforce for adept decision-making. In essence, the synergy between cutting-edge technology and a skilled workforce is vital for optimal outcomes. Recognizing that technological prowess alone is insufficient, the focus shifts towards nurturing a workforce equipped with the competencies to effectively utilize these advancements. This dual approach ensures that the human element remains central in the era of technological evolution, enabling organizations to not only embrace innovation but also strategically and efficiently manoeuvre within the complexities of contemporary supply chain landscapes.

Recent experiences have steered the pharmaceutical industry toward reinforcing and improving the resilience of supply chains. The foundations of a robust and adaptable supply chain now rest on proactive process management, end-to-end visibility, scenario planning, talent development, and digital transformation. While the pharmaceutical sector evolves, the moral imperative to guarantee uninterrupted access to crucial life-saving drugs remains paramount, highlighting the industry's dedication to upholding global health. Navigating disruptions, embracing sustainability, leveraging technology, and prioritizing talent development characterize the pharmaceutical industry's transformative journey in supply chain management. In the face of on-going challenges, the insights gained act as a guiding principle for future strategies, ensuring that pharmaceutical supply chains not only withstand but thrive in an ever-changing global landscape.

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