India is the world's third-largest pharmaceutical market globally in terms of volume.1 And yet, an estimated
50% of the population in India does not have regular access to essential medicines.2 Manufacturing the
medicines that are needed in the market is only the first step towards providing quality healthcare for all.
Getting these medicines to the patients who need them and at the right time is a complex logistical effort –
one that can be the difference between life and death for many people.
Needless to say, then, that expanding healthcare access is a critical priority for public and private
sector alike. And while many initiatives have been taken in this direction, a lot still needs to be done.
We believe that while not a cure-all, new business innovations can surely help improve the access and
availability of medicines and healthcare products in a sustainable way and at scale. The lack of access to
medicines is a result of many issues that include policies, manufacturing, regulatory frameworks and much
more, however at the nerve centre of all these, are the chinks in the distribution system that undermine
efforts to improve availability like:
Gaps in stock availability
Limited access to stockists by a retailer
Inadequate information on new drugs to retailers
Lack of visibility through the supply chains
Lack of last mile connect
Inefficiency of finance management in downstream value chain
Lack of distribution muscle among regional players
In an environment defined by changing patient expectations and new technologies, a radical overhaul of
pharma supply chains is definitely long overdue. In light of the widespread implications of digital
technologies on fragmented distribution systems, Pharma industry should fundamentally redefine its supply
Connection is key
The number of supply chain partners (suppliers, contract manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and
third-party logistics partners, retailers among others) is higher than ever before. A lack of integration
across this supply chain network hinders with the access to healthcare products. Cloud-based networks like
Pharmarack make it much easier to link all players through a single integrated network, even those with
different IT architectures or ERP systems, thus making networks more scalable.
The Power of Automation
Pharma supply chains have traditionally been characterized by long lead times, manual ordering, lack of
visibility of inventories and absence of any real-time data. All this stems from a lack of technology
implementation at ground level. The digitization of sourcing and procurement processes changes how companies
interact with their suppliers, and how the various levels of supply chain interact with each other. This can
greatly reduce the complexity of pharma supply chains.
The Phygital supply chain
Ultimately technology and digitization are only enablers of an actual on-ground business. Organizations
need physical movement of goods along the entire supply chain without compromising the efficacy and
efficiency of the system. Retailers can get visibility of stock available with distributors, but having this
information is only half a job done. The goal is to eventually deliver these drugs to the patients who need
them and at the right time. For instance, Pharmarack does an effective job of creating a Phygital supply
chain wherein the last mile deliveries between a distributor and retailer can be managed within 3 hours!
Endless opportunities through Fintech Solutions
India is land thriving with diverse traditional who are an essential part of the pharma supply chains.
These small to medium scale distributors and retailers comprise up to xx% of the market. Managing a small
business in this this highly complex industry can be very challenging indeed. As a distributor your business
is fulfil your retailer’s orders, however reality dictates that you also have to manage many backend
operations like order record, credit payments, reconciliations, and much more. And on top of it, there has
to be enough appetite to accommodate for late payments and credits. This creates an unseen burden on the
businesses that eventually undermines the agenda of creating availability of products – because let’s face
it, running a business is tough anyway!
That’s where technology platforms come in. There are also tools that help you get support for supply chain
financing to help your business optimize working capital.
In conclusion: Digitization has the potential to fundamentally transform pharma operations, opening
door to radical shifts in performance and capabilities. Pharma companies need to get started on this journey
immediately, taking steps to digitize their operations and supply chains and develop a strategic road map
for the next three to five years.
Those companies that seize the initiative can give themselves a sustainable competitive advantage; operate
with greater agility, cost-efficiency, and control; and ultimately provide
healthcare access for