An overview of the pharmaceutical supply chain from research to post-sales

Where pharmaceutical supply chains were once simpler and more condensed, with global firms making use of local and established suppliers and in control of the process from beginning to end, things are now much more complicated. Not only are pharmaceutical companies transnational but the supply chain itself has become an international web, with many of the steps throughout the process being outsourced.

overview of the pharmaceutical supply chain

Source: Twenty-first century supply chains: Transforming the pharmaceutical industry, IfM Review, Issue 1, 2014

Dr Jag Srai, Head of the Centre for International Manufacturing at the IFM, is amongst those in the industry who foresee the supply chain heading for simpler days, the reality is that procurement remains a complex and changing world in which to navigate with efficiency.

Why is it important to outsource comparator procurement to a CT Sourcing Partner with effective supplier relationships?

This complex and international supply chain can make it confusing when trying to source suppliers at any stage and is also pertinent with regards to sourcing comparators for clinical trials. One of the benefits of outsourcing comparator procurement to a CT Sourcing Partner is that they are responsible for making sure that they source comparators from a reliable source, and they have the expertise to do this. There is more to it, however, than just making sure that an unknown comparator supplier is the best one possible for the trial. A CT Sourcing Partner, such as AD Allen Pharma, who has a network of suppliers and has built relationships with them, offers enormous benefits with regards to the flexibility, reliability and cost of the supply, thereby also impacting positively on the trials themselves.

A CT Sourcing Partner with effective supplier relationships can source comparator drugs directly from the manufacturers or from a trusted supplier, helping to ensure that the drugs are legitimate and good quality, and not fraudulent. They are able to source comparators at lower prices, and help to maintain a steady but flexible supply. Their global network also enables them to source comparators which are hard to buy, meaning that the trial is less likely to be delayed while the right comparators are found and purchased.

It’s not enough to merely have a stable relationship as this could lead to dependency on one company which can be dangerous. Bearing this in mind, it’s important to have relationships which are not just good or stable but effective.

How to develop effective relationships within the Supplier Network

There are a number of ways in which one can build and maintain a good and effective relationship with suppliers, relevant to both the main drug manufacturer, carrying out the trials and dealing with multiple suppliers and businesses, and the CT Sourcing Partner, sourcing comparator drugs for clinical trials:.

  • Working at a level of knowledge and expertise, both with regards to the products and the correct legislation and procedures, builds trust and respect.
  • Managing the sourcing and buying process efficiently clearly makes life much easier for drug manufacturers, increasing their willingness to help and to work with you again.
  • Communicating well is important as it increases trust and maintains the relationship.
  • Understanding how the manufacturer / drug supplier works helps when dealing with them, allowing the ability to choose the right supplier for the right time, and making business with them smoother and more successful.



In her book Causes of Supply Chain Disruptions: An Empirical Analysis in Cold Chains for Food and Pharmaceuticals, Verena Brenner says the following, “apart from physical distance of companies in the supply chain, the number of companies and relationships seems to influence disruptions as well as the degree of interdependencies. Take together, these factors could be grouped to the quality of relationship between companies in the supply chain.”

While she seems to be referring to the supply chain as a whole, this is also relevant to the suppliers of comparator drugs; a number of factors which have an impact on the supply come together as the quality of relationships. At ADAllen Pharma, we take the time to pro actively network and invest in relationships with suppliers, creating relationships which are stable and valuable, allowing us to source comparators more easily and quickly at lower prices while maintaining a high quality and good supply.

If you would like to find out more about using a CT Sourcing Partner with effective relationships within the supplier network, contact us today.

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