Revamping India’s pharma supply chains for resilience, ET HealthWorld


By Prabhat Prakash & Prarthana Sharma

Mumbai: The fourth edition of the Re-Pharma Summit 2024 hosted several discussions on the progress the industry has made, the challenges that lie ahead, the importance of innovation, and how India is poised to climb up in the value chain of the global pharma landscape.

The panel discussion, titled ‘From Manufacturing to Patient: Ensuring Seamless Pharma Supply Chains in India’, explored the complexities faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the critical need for the availability of essential medications, upholding compliance and adhering to quality standards. The panellists for the discussion were Vishwanath Swarup, COO, India Business, Bharat Serums & Vaccines Ltd, Sabina Sawliwala, Chief Procurement Officer, Jaslok Hospital, Rohan Sharma, Director, Office Leasing Advisory, Bangalore & CRM Lead, Lifesciences, India, JLL. The session was moderated by Chakravarthi AVPS, Chairman, FOPE & AP and TS, President, INBA-Hyderabad & Honorary Advisor, Pharmexcil.

The supply chain disruptions were a major point of discussion, with the challenges of maintaining uninterrupted supply, ensuring the safety of the workers, and addressing the increasing demand during the pandemic. The focus was on the management of systems, strategising partnerships with vendors and distributors to tackle short-term supply challenges.

Swarup described an incident where people asked for essential medication immediately, illustrating the strain and urgency encountered during the pandemic. It highlighted the significant risks and psychological costs associated with handling such demands in the face of supply chain limitations and regulatory scrutiny.

Addressing the challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry, the leaders highlighted the supply chain vulnerabilities during the pandemic. The overreliance on a single supplier, especially in the case of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China, was identified as a significant threat. The need for a ‘China plus One’ strategy was emphasised to mitigate risks and ensure a diversified supply chain.

The pandemic highlighted how essential the pharmaceutical supply chain is and it showed how resilient and creatively it can respond to emergencies. These workers were essential in preserving public health and saving lives in addition to dispensing drugs.

Sharma stated, “In my last three decades of being in procurement and supply chain, never have we faced the challenges that we faced at the time of COVID.”

He emphasised supply chain management and procurement skills to the test, as well as the unprecedented nature of the issues faced during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Future success was highlighted as being heavily dependent on the necessity of significant connections with research institutions such as ICT and NIPER, as well as within the industry. It was determined that the adoption of AI technology in digital healthcare changed everything, enabling India to maintain its top spot in terms of both volume and value.

Sawliwal added, “Our logistics and transportation costs are literally double-digit, whereas if you go to America or Europe, these are single-digit costs.”

She highlighted the differences in costs and logistical difficulties between companies operating in India and more developed economies like the US and Europe. It draws attention to the necessity of improving logistics and transportation efficiency as well as developing the nation’s infrastructure in order to lower operating costs and boost competitiveness for enterprises.

Concluding on an optimistic note, emphasising the untapped potential in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors and the importance of leveraging technology, incremental innovations, and strategic moves to maintain India’s leadership in pharmaceuticals is highlighted.

  • Published On Feb 2, 2024 at 09:23 PM IST

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