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Weekly Round Up
09 August 2022
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Features

Track and trace
There is nothing like a pandemic for demonstrating the necessity for serialisation, interoperability, and more advanced analytics and tracking. Tim Gunn asks Rob Handfield, the executive director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative at North Carolina State University, Mark Treshock, IBM’s global solution leader for blockchain in healthcare and life sciences, and Shawn Muma, technology research leader for the Digital Supply Chain Institute, what the supply chain might look like once this is all over.

Outsource and intake
For decades, pharmaceutical companies have relied on contract development and manufacturing companies (CDMOs) to develop drugs. But though these third-party contractors proved their worth in the fight against Covid, dramatically expanding global vaccine manufacturing capacity, an unintended consequence has been that the supply of other medicines has suffered. Andrea Valentino talks to Joe Glajch, an industry veteran and consultant, and Emily Thompson, US director for new process technology at DPS Group to understand the historical importance of CDMOs, why the pandemic has put their role under scrutiny – and whether recent experiences could result in a more fundamental shift in how drugs are manufactured.

Double agents
Looking at a vial of liquid or a solid pill, it’s easy to see pharmaceuticals as simple objects rather than a complex array of chemicals and raw materials, delicately balanced to achieve a desired effect. The current coronavirus vaccines are a good example of such a balance, with the list of ingredients including water, sugar and salt, all of which play a different role in the effective deployment of the messenger RNA (mRNA) that stimulates the immune response. But one category of components has held the spotlight recently for its ability to improve the protection offered by vaccines. Monica Karpinski looks at the role adjuvants play in making vaccines effective, as well as the research that suggests they could hold even greater unrealised potential.

The struggle to supply
Pharmaceutical supply chains are still reacting to the pressures of the pandemic, though they have mostly held steady and avoided many of the potential risks. The stresses placed on certain products have led both commercial and academic experts to ask how we might add even more protection for companies, hospitals and patients that rely on timely deliveries. From enhancing visibility to localised sourcing, Jim Banks explores how the industry can instil more reliability in its supply chains.

Good things, small packages
Containers have been an inescapable part of the pharma supply chain forever – but it’s only with the rise of sophisticated new treatments, and the consequences of the pandemic, that insiders have begun sweeping away antiquated technologies. Andrea Valentino talks to Patricia Turney, senior vice president of operations at Arcutis Biotherapeutics, to understand why the pharma supply chain has grown in importance over recent years, the limitations of traditional drug containers – and what the so-called hybrid model could mean for both drug delivery and the planet.


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