Pharmaceutical companies battle counterfeit goods

IBM study shows Pharmaceutical companies must improve in several areas

September 14, 2009

IBM study shows Pharmaceutical companies must improve in several areas

Reducing the risk of counterfeit drugs and contaminated medications are among the top concerns of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries today, according to a new IBM study.

More than 50 percent of executives polled say their companies fail to respond quickly enough to pandemics and other emergencies because of lapses in their supply chain.

Companies must work to improve their ability to keep wholesalers, hospitals and pharmacies stocked with the products they need to meet patient demand. Tracking every step of how drugs are manufactured and distributed are key priorities for more than 70 percent of companies.

Other key findings:

Compared to 18 other key industries, the life sciences business is one of the most highly globalized, particularly in the area of Research and Development. From a supply chain perspective, the industry is not as advanced.

“As the industry faces a time of transition, supply chain executives are outsourcing more business processes, turning to emerging markets and becoming more globally integrated, all while actively managing risk,” said Dr. Philippe Cini, IBM Global Business Services, Life Sciences Supply Chain Management Partner. “The companies we spoke with said they are looking to a different kind of supply chain – one that gives the insight to react instantly to risks or threats, is much smarter and able to provide them the insight and agility necessary to compete in a changing marketplace.”

Counterfeiting is one of the biggest risks facing the pharmaceutical industry today. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 10 percent of the worldwide drug supply is counterfeit. To combat such risks, sophisticated simulations and data models help companies calculate risk, and building intelligence into products and packaging such as barcodes, RFID tags and other smart devices, supply chain executives can prevent theft.