The modern pharmaceutical supply chain is an amazing thing. No other supply chain handles the combination of volume, variety, value and complexity, and does it as efficiently and accurately as the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain. And it does it on an overnight order-to-delivery cycle from wholesaler to pharmacy. Wholesalers are the key to the efficient operation of the pharmaceutical supply chain, and that’s why I am personally drawn to that segment.
The heart of the modern drug wholesale business—the thing that makes it live, kicking or screaming—is the modern pharmaceutical distribution center (DC). That magical combination of people, processes, data and automation produces a dance every night across the country where individual drug packages are picked from cases and combined with other individual drug packages to fulfill the orders of pharmacies everywhere. It is musical to watch and understand, and the crescendo occurs around 10:30pm every night local time at every pharma DC. Today’s successful wholesalers have figured out how to deal with this specific complexity by organizing their people, processes, data and automation in a stabilizing way to make it all manageable, repeatable and very efficient, and thus making it possible to carve out a thin but well-earned and reliable profit.
I have my own theory of innovation. Almost everyone agrees that innovation is a key ingredient in growth and prosperity but in our current times, few companies are able to cause it to happen. I think that’s because people misunderstand innovation, and particularly how to get it going. With all the belt-tightening going on as the result of lean times, innovation could not be more essential, but at the same time, seemingly more out of reach.
In my view, there are three main stages to innovation: experimentation, enlightenment and transformation. Experimentation is the most assured pathway to innovation but it is also one of the first things to get cut when belt-tightening occurs. It requires an organization to spend time on lots of things that eventually get discarded because they end up never taking root. To an accountant, experimentation looks a lot like “play-time” activity that isn’t needed. Innovation can occur without an experimentation stage, but reliance on “bolts-out-of-the-blue” to kick-start innovation will ensure that you will almost never actually get there.
Enlightenment is nothing more than an improved understanding of reality. It occurs when a series of experiments from the experimentation stage are accepted by a group as having special significance because they reveal a part of reality that was previously hidden from view. Enlightenment is the removal of blind-spots. Once the blind-spots are removed, easier or more profitable paths become more obvious—or at least one of them becomes less foggy.
That’s right. And it comes from an economic reality that was evident even six years ago. That was when a small group of people with various pharmaceutical supply chain backgrounds had an informal discussion of the relative costs and impacts that each of the three primary business segments in the supply chain would face in a full deployment of Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID). As I recall, this conversation may not have even been part of the official proceedings of the project we were assembled to work on at the time. It may have actually occurred during one of the social hours after a day of meetings, but it stuck with me. Ever since that time I kept meaning to get around to creating the graphs that we envisioned at that time but have never gotten around to it, until now. Continue reading RFID is DEAD…at Unit-Level in Pharma→
The published guidance is not radically different from the draft guidance that the agency published under the same name in January of 2009. In fact, in my view, the only really important difference is how the Continue reading FDA Aligns with GS1 SGTIN For SNDC→
Does the supply chain itself make any contribution to patient safety? The legitimate pharmaceutical supply chain is that complex web of companies that move drugs from the manufacturers to the pharmacies that dispense them to patients. The supply chain always includes both of those end points (manufacturer and pharmacy) and, in the U.S., normally also includes at least one wholesaler. The supply chain is typically viewed as “Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Pharmacy”, whether the pharmacy is within a hospital, clinic, retail independent, chain store, grocery store, or mail order. The great majority of prescription drugs arriving in the hands of U.S. patients have passed through this supply chain.
The effort to create the business and technical requirements for Discovery Services started just about two years ago and completed this past December. How long will it take to get to a ratified standard? The GS1 Discovery Services Work Group Charter predicts it will be done in June of 2011, but predictions in charter documents are notoriously optimistic. The EPCIS Charter predicted that standard would be ratified in August of 2005, for example—one third the time it actually took.
DISCLAIMER: RxTrace contains some of the personal thoughts, ideas and opinions of Dirk Rodgers. The material contained in RxTrace is not legal advice. Dirk Rodgers is not a lawyer. The reader must make their own decisions about the accuracy of the opinions expressed in RxTrace. Readers are encouraged to consult their own legal counsel and trading partners before taking any actions based on information found in RxTrace. RxTrace is not a vehicle for communicating the positions of any company, organization or individual other than Dirk Rodgers.