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Taking a Step Forward towards Better Inventory Management of Pharmaceutical Supplies

Jan 8, 2019

Inventory management in the pharmaceutical industry involves complex systems that consist of interrelated and interlocking subsystems. Changes made in one part of the inventory management system have both anticipated and unanticipated consequences in the other part of the system. In recent years, we have witnessed several pathbreaking discoveries in the pharmaceutical industry’s inventory management. However, even small mistakes in inventory management can quickly lead to confusion, increased turnaround times, unnecessary expenses or worse, prescription errors that endanger patient health. Furthermore, the advancements in the pharmaceutical industry also entail several challenges in the global health pharmaceutical delivery supply chain, particularly in meeting the demands for new and personalized therapeutics. 

Inventory related challenges affecting pharmaceutical companies

Inventory management

Inventory management in global health pharmaceutical delivery supply chain involves complex processes which include quantification and replenishment decisions. However, due to the lack of accurate information, there is often uncertainty that results in a negative impact on the company’s inventory management system.

Dependency on human resources

The lack of qualified individuals to fill the logistics-related positions in pharmaceutical companies is being recognized as a threat that results in heavy workload and ineffective role performance. Aside from this, it also leaves key responsibilities that include making supply chain calculations and decisions unattended. On the other hand, along with the utilization of accessible and user-friendly IT systems, pressure on HR capacity can be alleviated by hiring a dynamic team of responsible and trained people equipped with enough knowledge and skills.

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Order management

Demand information or data about the availability of products in the different levels of the supply chain are the primary decision-making factors in order management. This translates to the fact that lack of accurate information would make order management to solely rely on assumptions and experience. Consequently, orders may arrive incomplete, inaccurate or delayed, which can negatively affect product availability and overall inventory management of pharmaceutical supplies.

Warehouse management

Most warehouses do not possess adequate facilities to support large inventories. Relying on third-party logistics might not always be effective due to poor organization and not enough designated area for different functions such as receiving, shipping and storage for both damaged and expired products. In the long run, such unfavorable conditions may ultimately lead to discrepancies in logistics and inaccuracies in inventory management.

Temperature control

Factors such as environmental conditions, particularly temperature could greatly affect drug potency. Hence, failure to provide the right temperature during storage and shipment of pharmaceutical products may result in major product wastage. Refrigerated containers or storage rooms might be available in the warehouses. However, there are chances of gaps in ensuring and monitoring of temperature level. This makes cold chain difficult to maintain.

Shipment visibility

Once the manufacturer sends out the product for delivery, it becomes difficult to track its status at different levels of the supply chain. Besides, the exact date when the products will arrive becomes unknown to both the manufacturer and the recipient.

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Overcoming pharmaceutical inventory management challenges

Some of the top pharmaceutical companies are already doing a stellar job at inventory management, but almost everyone has some room for improvement. Here are some best practices for companies in the pharmaceutical industry to optimize their inventory levels:

Get an accurate count

Pharmaceutical companies can’t manage what they don’t measure. Also, a visual scan of the shelves often proves insufficient to provide the sort of accuracy needed. One of the best solutions to combat this is to conduct an annual physical inventory, supported by a computerized inventory system, and monitored by a designated employee.

Maximize the value of inventory management system

Most computerized inventory management systems lack a perpetual inventory management model. Such systems help in keeping tabs on all products in stock and automatically places an order for more product needed to maintain a certain inventory level. The company will need to adjust the parameters depending on the demand. This ensures that the order threshold and amount match the new future demand. Even a computerized system needs to be monitored and maintained for accuracy.

Shed excess inventory

Pharmaceutical inventory loses value as it ages. So, carrying excess inventory amplifies the risk of losing thousands of dollars on expired, unsaleable products. A pharmaceutical company can’t sell products once they pass their expiration date. Although demand can fluctuate from day to day, a week’s worth of inventory should be more than enough to accommodate even unusual spikes in daily demand.

With a capable supply chain and inventory management process in place, there is no looking back for companies in the pharmaceutical industry. But are you there yet? If not, SpendEdge is here to help. Request a free proposal now!

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