18 May 2020

How COVID-19 is Transforming Medicines Supply Chains

COVID-19 is creating monumental shifts in how we all live our lives. From working practices to social distancing, we continue to adapt to the challenges we face.

In a world where medicines are more important than ever, some of the biggest changes are in the supply chains that keep the medical world moving.

At Smartway, we’re proud to be established supply chain experts. We understand how vital medicines move from manufacturers to medical providers and, ultimately, to patients themselves. And we’re constantly adjusting our operations to suit these unpredictable times.

The other side of offshoring

For decades, the manufacture of medicines has been moving overseas. The promise of low labour costs and, as a result, increased margins have led more providers to source products internationally – today, 80-90% of generic medicines used in the NHS are imported.

A huge proportion of these products come from abroad. So in a scenario where production slows to a halt and millions of employees are locked down, supply chains quickly become constricted.

Offshoring’s big commercial benefits will always come with increased risk to continuity and availability. That’s why it’s vital for wholesalers and distributors to nurture diversified pipelines wherever possible.

Keeping pace during a pandemic

Meanwhile, the responsible manufacturers that the world depends on for medicine are facing the biggest challenges to survival that they have ever known.

The global nature of COVID-19 creates a series of concerns, including:

  • Imposed shutdown on production
  • Interrupted supply of raw materials including catalysts and reagents
  • Increased expense in order to protect the workforce

In the coming months, these challenges will lead to manufacturers falling behind their competitors and struggling to stay alive. This looks set to create a knock-on effect right across the global supply chain.

A crisis of demand

Finally, COVID-19 has created unparalleled demand for certain devices, PPE, medicines and raw materials on a global scale. This demand is occurring at a time when logistics networks are vulnerable and import/export regulations are tightened.

Even where the appropriate supply levels exist, a reliance on just a few suppliers in a few locations can effectively block movement to providers and patients.

Overcoming this challenge takes a more agile approach, with an effectively controlled supply chain that can be adapted to fit circumstances that are changing day-by-day and week-by-week.

Supply chains built for resilience

At Smartway, we pride ourselves on our supply chain and strong relationships with suppliers around the world. With quality at our core, we’ve built a supply chain that is resilient, adaptable and robust – and ready for unexpected challenges.

Our extensive experience and existing partnerships mean we are primed to maintain supply in these difficult circumstances. Our supply chain adapts, evolves and overcomes, but the outcomes remain the same: any product, any quantity, anywhere.

Find out more about our commitment to reliability, adaptability and timeliness.

Learn more

Smartway is an MHRA approved wholesaler of pharmaceutical products with Wholesale Distribution Authorisation (Human & Veterinary) issued by the British Government

Smartway is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). GPhC Registration No. 2068514. Pharmacy Registration No. 9010774

Smartway has a Controlled Drug Licence (Schedule 2, 3, 4 [Part I & II] &5) issued by the Home Office department of the British Government

Smartway is a proud member of both the London and Merton Chambers of Commerce