Pharma’s Supply Chain future needs Social Media

lwarburt    October 26, 2015


Title: Pharma’s Supply Chain future needs Social Media

Name of Contact(s): Paul Fiore, National Director, Aurobindo Pharma

Web references:  Wikepedia, McKeeson, Sound-cloud, Google,


Supply chain efficiencies are a number one business challenge with todays globalization and competitive market place.  The complexity of todays pharmaceutical supply chain has the added responsibility of life and death in getting it right.



The pharma supply chain from research – manufacturing – distribution all contain unique challenges which are dependant on advanced technology and more importantly the use of social media within that technology to ensure an efficient, safe, and sustainable cost effective system.


Wikipedia:  Social media is defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.

Pharma’s supply chain’s highly detailed interactive technological platforms allow individuals, companies, governments and communities to share, modify and analyze content in “real time“. There are numerous stages within the supply chain that technology and its social media voice strengthens the chain.




The below Sound Chain Radio channel: The Right Way to Sell Drugs provides an interesting and  brief audio overview of the pharma supply chain and importantly how the ever tightening profit margins experienced by pharma companies have become exceptionally dependant on the efficiencies of its own supply chain.



In an interview for this blog with Paul Fiore, National Director/Aurobindo Pharma,aurobindo-1 Mr. Fiore explained there is a fine line between profit and loss for the drug manufacturer:   “Getting the appropriate distribution of supply as related to demand is crucial: too much of  a manufactured  drug may lead to an increased cost in warehousing, possible loss of product and cost of destroying that product if expiry dating becomes an issue. When there is a decrease of a manufactured drug moving efficiently through the chain possible drug shortages and lost sales can occur. To complicate this further, drug shortages, even very short timed ones, can lead to possible de-listing on government and institution formularies. Ensuring the supply chain runs as efficiently as possible is a “must” for todays pharmaceutical company to remain sustainable.”




McKeeson, a Canadian based global supply chain and health services company white paper titled: Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Solution (PSCS) : An innovative, centralized supply chain model to optimize quality and efficiency demonstrated how their services (a pilot project undertaken by McKeeson and the government of New Brunswick ) of a fully integrated single source pharmaceutical supply chain could provide efficient solutions to current challenges including: fragmentation, multiple distribution channels, varied pricing structures. All of which if not dealt with effectively, can lead to increase costs to pharma companies, government and patients, safety concerns, potential drug shortages and increases in counterfeit drugs.

There are numerous stages within the supply chain that technology and its social media voice strengthens the chain. For the content of this blog, I will briefly point out just 2 areas that McKeeson aims to provide a solution : Increased efficiencies to reduce costs and safeguarding patient safety.

  1. Increased efficiencies to reduce costs:

McKeeson’s sophisticated drug distribution technology has the the ability to customize solutions based on clients needs. The single point of accountability ensures recording and  tracking of medications throughout the supply chain provides proper dispensing, administering and availability. This decreases costs lost through improper dosing, damaged medications and short dated products remaining in the chain. These efficiencies are all generated by the use of advantaged technology and more specifically the interactive social media component built into the technology.

2. Safeguarding Patient Safety

A single source supplier, like McKeeson, hand in hand with  “barcode ” technology  provides a higher level of security in medication management. Tracking, tracing  and dispensing is more secure due to the fact there is only one single handler with a collaborative transparent view of the supply from manufacturer to end user. The technology associated with  the bar code technology allow the critical clearance needed to ensure the medication is in fact authentic and not counterfeit.  According to McKeeson’s  white paper the use of barcoding applications can decrease dispensing errors by over 30% and the chance of adverse events with patients by more than 60%. Barcode scanning at the time of dosing may reduce medication administration errors by over 40% as stated in the same paper.

The supply chain in the pharmaceutical sector must be highly efficient in order for the individual drug company to remain sustainable. Use of sophisticated technology, complete with interactive social media,  plays an integral role in ensuring and increasing efficiencies. As we move into the near future the development of new social media tools will strengthen the supply chain ensuring much needed medications get to those who need them.

Lessons for Others:

  1. Pharma supply chain is complex and Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0  are what will improve the efficiencies of the chain.

2. Collaboration and information sharing is paramount to ensuring the industry remains sustainable

3. The failure(s) of the pharma supply chain means much more than a single company failure, it may mean less available, safe, effective drugs for everyone.


Submitted by: L Warburton /Student/Social Media for Business Performance /University of Waterloo

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