As the launch of the FlyPharma Conference gets ever-closer, speaker Amy Shortman of ASC Pharmaceutical Logistics reveals the tricky relationship that exists between pharma manufacturers and 3PLs, as we ask her: how can we encourage better supply chain collaboration?
What initially attracted you to the pharma logistics industry?
In my teens I was a member of the Air Training Corps, so it’s fair to say I have always had a thing for aviation and aircraft. My first job at Biocair, specialists in clinical trial logistics, was managing dangerous goods, cool chain, life-saving medicines and clinical trials. It was an exciting introduction to the air freight industry and I was proud to be part of a team that provided such high levels of customer service.
How crucial is the right packaging choice to ensuring supply chain integrity?
Choosing the correct packaging is important, but without robust procedures and supply chain partners who understand a shipment’s requirements, even the best packaging systems could risk product integrity.
What is the one thing that most pharma companies don’t consider when shipping out their products?
The different environments their shipments come into contact with throughout the supply chain. I urge manufacturers to follow shipments to see the differences in airlines, warehouses, and how many times their shipments are handled. Also, the fluctuations in temperatures can be quite shocking – as an example, JFK International Airport can be a very different place in the winter, compared to the summer.
And what’s the one thing that third-party logistics providers (3PLs) get wrong?
Some 3PLs are playing catch-up in developing healthcare or pharmaceutical verticals, but without the necessary quality management systems, processes and staff with experience and expertise in place. It is not about the marketing; it’s about the working knowledge of the regulations and developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) that mitigate risk.
There is generally also an assumption that manufacturers have a realistic understanding of the supply chain and a working knowledge of how to implement Good Manufacturing Practice into their SOPs – which is often not the case.
Can companies do more to work together?
Yes, always. A good 3PL/manufacturer relationship should be built on a willingness to aim for best practice and to have a true understanding of current capabilities, with a plan for future development. The collaboration of everyone in the supply chain is essential. With the enforcement of regulations set to become stricter, companies need to work together with openness and honesty to plan for the future. At the end of the day, we are talking about medicines for human use and ensuring they reach patients in the correct conditions. The loss of efficacy in these goods is not just a business issue – it’s personal. It could be my family or yours taking them one day.
Amy Shortman will be speaking at FlyPharma on Why Packaging Matters, as well as participating in our Improving Collaboration in the Pharma Logistics Chain discussion panel. Join us and register your seat at the conference now!
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