Top 10 Pharma Supply Chain Trends for 2023: Part Two


In part two of this trends article, we will continue with the last five trends shaping the pharmaceutical supply chain and manufacturing industry in 2023.

6. New Modalities Will Require Innovation

Drug modalities represent different types of drugs based on their composition, action and therapeutic application. Historically this took the form of small molecule drugs, but with advancements in scientific research, new types of modalities have emerged to improve patients’ lives. Each modality will have its own manufacturing requirements that will necessitate specialized technologies.

While cloud, edge, IIoT, AI, low-code tools and security platforms are mostly common across modalities, the focus will be on modalities’ unique technology requirements:

• Biologics: The growing biologics market is expected to hit over $719.84 billion by 2030 and will require single-use bioreactors, advanced purification systems, continuous manufacturing and real-time temperature monitoring systems.

• Gene therapies: The market size is projected to be around $93.78 billion and will require closed-system bioreactors, gene editing tools (e.g., CRISPR), robotic handling systems, cryopreservation and process monitoring.

• mRNA: The emergent mRNA modality is projected to have a market size of $38.15 billion and will require specialized synthesis platforms, cold chain logistics, lipid nanoparticle formulation technologies and large-scale production capabilities.

7. Composability Becomes A Fundamental Requirement

Pharmaceutical supply chains play a critical role in ensuring the availability of life-saving medications to patients worldwide. However, these supply chains often face challenges related to complexity, lack of agility and the need to adapt to evolving market demands.

The motivators for leading pharmaceutical companies in adopting composable business approach include:

• Autonomy and agility through modularity.

• Predictive insights and discovery.

• Partner and customer orchestration.

• Resilience and failover.

Key technologies to consider when enabling a composable business:

• Platform-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud modularity: PaaS enables composability through rapid solution development, service orchestration and API management, to name a few.

• Event-driven micro-services: Independent, self-contained units of functionality that represent a specific business capability of the supply chain. Pharmaceutical companies can create a modular architecture.

• Blockchain trust and interoperability: A composable pharmaceutical business must be platform-based to enable interoperability and standardization across different supply chain partners and components. By utilizing blockchain as a shared platform, pharmaceutical companies can establish standardized protocols, data formats and APIs for interacting with various modules within the supply chain.

8. Disruptions Make CyberSecurity A Top Priority

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the total cost of cybercrime will exceed $8 trillion by the end of 2023. This poses a clear and present danger to pharmaceutical organizations that has already lost $14 billion through intellectual property cyber theft. A recent survey found that 84% of all companies worldwide believe software supply chain attacks represent the biggest cyber threat within the next 24 months.

Pharma organizations must prioritize cybersecurity strategies that define measures like risk assessments and management, a cybersecurity framework (e.g., NIST cybersecurity framework), data classification, policy and monitoring. But remember, it’s not just vulnerable technology to blame—humans are culpable as well. Human error continues to be a key cybersecurity risk with 95% of successful cyberattacks coming from human negligence or a deliberate attack. It’s important to focus on acquiring talent and ensuring that employees are trained on cybersecurity-proven practices. In 2022, around 10% of cyberattack attempts were thwarted because employees reported them, but if they don’t know how to spot them, they can’t report them.

9. Immersive Experiences

The pharmaceutical industry is embracing the transformative potential of augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality in its supply chain and manufacturing functions. Integration of these immersive solutions is leading to increased efficiency, productivity and innovation.

Below are examples of how pharmaceutical companies are leveraging immersive experience technologies to drive business value.

• Enhanced training and skill development: Through realistic simulations and replicating complex manufacturing processes, it provides employees with vital hands-on experiences, as seen with Novartis’ usage of VR to train employees in sterile environments to reduce risks.

• Streamlined processes and efficiency: Leveraging AR as a digital overlay of information onto physical environments allows workers to visualize real-time data, instructions and guidelines. Companies like Pfizer have leveraged AR applications to optimize warehousing and reduce errors in order fulfillment.

• Remote collaboration and support: MR technologies play a crucial role in enabling remote collaboration and support for geographically dispersed teams. Johnson & Johnson has integrated MR into their manufacturing operations, enabling remote support.

• Quality assurance and compliance: Immersive technologies can aid in QA by providing real-time monitoring, visualizations and data analysis during manufacturing processes. Merck uses AR to enhance inspections and detect potential errors, ensuring compliance with strict regulatory standards.

• Continuous innovation: Pharmaceutical companies can foster a culture of continuous innovation through VR simulations, where they can create new manufacturing techniques without physical prototyping. AstraZeneca is making big bets on these technologies, with its chief digital and technology officer even going so far as to claim that AR and VR will be “one of the dominant technologies in the next 10 years.”

10. Digital Twins Driving Digital Pharma 4.0

Pharmaceutical companies are investing in digital twins to gain visibility, simulate manufacturing to prevent problems and optimize manufacturing processes to reduce costs. The digital twin market is expected to grow by 27% over the next seven years to reach $1.2 billion in 2030.

Some of those benefits include:

• Reduced time to market: Digital twins can accelerate new product introduction (NPI) by streamlining the way new drugs are moved from R&D to commercialization by simulating manufacturing processes and identifying potential bottlenecks.

• Increased yield: A better understanding of the manufacturing process and becoming more predictive enables optimization of the manufacturing processes to increase yield, which will reduce costs and improve profitability.

• Improved operational efficiency: Digital twins can help pharmaceutical companies improve operational efficiency by identifying areas of waste and inefficiency and enabling continuous process improvement. This can help reduce costs and improve profitability.

• Better supply chain management: With complex supply chains that have thousands of assets, warehouses, and logistics flows, anticipating risks and becoming proactive is vital to optimizing the supply chain. According to BCG, “Early implementers have captured a variety of benefits, including sustainable inventory reductions of up to 5%, capex reductions of up to 10%.”

Source: Forbes