Pharma manufacturing is considered to be a very niche and tough business. They are engaged in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of legal drugs, biologics (viruses, toxins, serums and stuff), vaccines, and medical devices. Pharma companies have unique complexities owing to the compound nature of their industry:
-Catering to the time-tested models of manufacturing
-Overarching capital assets like R&D, technology, licensed production facilities, intellectual property rights etc.
-Huge and recurring capital consumption
-Time-consuming research process
-The staple utility of their finished products etc and a lot more.
Almost the entire world has turned topsy turvy because of the ongoing pandemic. And pharma manufacturers were not spared from its wrath. COVID- 19 disrupted the health care industry’s entire supply chain starting from raw materials procurement to manufacturing and delivery. For instance, the demand for medical ventilators has forced the producers to boost production by up to 40 to 50% at the global level.
Enormous lifesaving drugs and vaccines are still in the discovery stages. This is because the mutations that the virus keeps undergoing is making every effort of the R&D team futile. So, in this current scenario, it has been strenuous to focus on production and satisfy the increasing demand.
Hence the following trends have evolved:
All drug manufacturers are resorting to third-party manufacturing companies or contract manufacturing companies. This helps them reap a no. of benefits as follows:
-As the routine production process is outsourced, more focus, time and resources can be devoted to R&D.
-Choosing third party manufacturing companies that enjoy certain economies of scale can help us cut down costs to a great extent.
-Nowadays contract manufacturers are also scaled up with a very good R&D of their own.
-Strict adherence to the quality norms and standards is also guaranteed.
-Proper packaging and labelling are also assured, adding to the quality of the final product.
Today we are nearing 4.0, the fourth Industrial Revolution which is marked by automation and advanced manufacturing and technology frontiers. Hence the term digital manufacturing is buzzing in pharma manufacturing also. It is nothing but the application of digital tools or techniques thereby optimizing the manufacturing process. It involves the application of data and analytics. It leverages advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).
One way is to go in for smaller batches, optimizing asset utilization or being first to a new market. Organizations will be able to tune the scale of manufacturing processes to respond to demand increases. It will also reduce the inventory needs saving a lot of costs. Thus, making health care affordable and accessible.
Another option is to improve workflow productivity. The production cycle is designed in such a way that there will be no hold times. This allows higher speeds and enhanced process safety. Hence it is way more advantageous when compared to the traditional methods of production.
In the long run, almost all the leading pharmaceutical companies employ a combination of the above to reduce manufacturing costs, shorten production times and bring down human error rates.