Social Media/Supply Chain Management with Pharmaceutical Manufacturer a Tough Pill to Swallow

Carina Fato    October 26, 2016

On the day I read the content of this case study I had a nasty headache. As I reached for my bottle of Tylenol I wondered how does the manufacturing  industry use social media and the resulting supply chain management ?  Having close relatives in this industry and for confidentiality reasons I decided to look into the manufacturing/vendor side as opposed to discussing a large well-known pharmaceutical company.  What I learned at this level of this industry was it has various levels of complexities of graphs, processes and disconnected communications.

Tracking the global path of a pharmaceutical product from raw material
to end consumer is complicated and risky.When done right, strategic chain of custody solutions can leverage brand reputation.But persistent vulnerabilities—poor visibility,
and tainted, expired,or counterfeit drugs—can lead to numerous outcomes far more costly than a damaged reputation. Bad deliverables can be the difference between life and death.”
– Beth Goodbaum

In this complex and regulated industry every party in the chain has to be aware of where they are in the process and what all the other parties are doing within their “links” in the chain. Each is a fast moving part and inter-reliant upon controlled releases and quality.  The majority of the drug manufacturing companies rely on traditional software and methods as their internal and external communication and project tracking goals.

  • SAP SE
  • People Soft by Oracle 
  • Microsoft Share Point (newer standard for internal confidential communications within this industry)
  • Webinar
  • Teleconference
  • Face to face meetings internally with project managers or long distance travel

Cost vs Timely Execution = over taxed and a highly stressed environment for the project managers and teams in production.

In speaking with David Brown, there is need for improvement in this industry.
“Everybody’s schedule impacts the results of others through the manufacturing process. By adapting a social media platform internally where a common transparency viewing the entire process can be extremely valuable. As long as it does not impede the timelines on the deliverables and bringing the product to market .”


Unlike their clients that are large pharmaceutical companies (i.e. Johnson & JohnsonPfizerBristol Myers SquibbAstraZeneca)  many of the drug manufacturer/vendors tend to be resourcefully lean and do not fully embrace social media.
In a highly competitive pharmaceutical world, bringing products to market within budget, and strict timeline is the highest priority.  In this world of production the use of social communication technologies are limited.  As global demand for medications is on rise (projection of medicine spending 2020 $1,415 USD billion) organizational leaders in this industry aren’t taking to task the right balance between transparent team communications and order fulfillment. For many drug manufacturing companies the risk of balancing transparency, confidentiality, and regulatory concerns is too high.  However, not unifying existing processes with a social media SCM system has the potential of making them vulnerable and at risk for costly delays.
This raises the question…Is there a perception in the industry that investing and adding social media to manufacturing processes will add undue and excessive costs?

Lessons for Others

Pharma companies sit on a wealth of data, usually locked away in different technical and organizational silos. Some are already linking and mining their data sets to improve their pipelines, products, and strategies. 

The possibilities that social media offer enterprises are endless.
The migration to a SM platform for organization that heavily relies on data to deliver a product on schedule and on budget is not as  daunting as it was once before. While manufacturer/vendors to big Pharma seem to be reluctant to apply social media as a digital media their clients have. Since 2013, pharmaceutical companies tweets increased by 530% . The lesson may be as simple as opening up dialogue and understanding your client’s requirements for success.




Organization: None industry over-view
Industry: Manufacturing
Name of Organization Contact: David Brown

Authored by: Carina Fato

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


The Race is On: Chain of Custody in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain – Beth Goodbaum

Pharma companies still fail to embrace social media – AMANDA CICCATELLI

Statistics and facts about the pharmaceutical industry worldwide –

The road to digital success in pharma – David Champagne, Amy Hung, and Olivier Leclerc

Pharma, the FDA and Social Media – Joanna Belbey contributor Forbes