Sustainability of the Supply Chain
On average, HDA members provide twice daily deliveries to their customers. This means, for example, that any pharmacist can order a medicine late morning and it will be delivered mid-afternoon on the same day. ‘Just-in-time’ delivery is at the core of what HDA members offer, enabling unparalleled responsiveness and flexibility, even when the number of delivery points (pharmacies, hospitals, dispensing doctors, etc.) and the volume of medicines dispensed have risen significantly in recent years. Ultimately, without healthcare distributors, the current ability for patients to access the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time, at a reasonable cost, could be severely compromised. The Association’s concerns over the future sustainability of the sector focus on:
- As an industry focused on patient safety, healthcare distribution is highly regulated, principally at the European Union level, but implemented by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) in the UK. However, as regulation of the sector has evolved to ensure public health needs are met appropriately, the resulting business responsibilities for healthcare distributors have increased over time. Taken with the demands from payers for greater efficiencies including use of technologies, this is beginning to impact on the long-term sustainability of the sector. With the UK’s Transition Period coming to an end in December 2020, this burden has the potential to become even greater in the face of regulatory uncertainty.
- Over the past few years, the distribution sector has invested substantial funds to meet regulatory demands such as the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) and Batch-Recording stemming from EU Good Distribution Practice. And while these initiatives have merit in practice, Brexit has now made them redundant. Designing and implementing new processes will only place a more intense regulatory burden on the sector, in turn driving up costs and further questioning the ability of distributors to sustainably and affordably supply medicines.
- The current healthcare distribution sector is highly competitive and, quite rightly goes all-but unseen by the patient, who relies upon the safe distribution of their treatments every day. The service currently offered by HDA members enables patients to access their medicines when and where they want to receive them. However, as the Government continues to make efficiency savings in all parts of the supply chain (e.g. pharmacy funding) and the global medicines market increasingly squeezes prices (e.g. generics), there is a distinct possibility that distributors’ already wafer-thin margins become eroded even further.
From Factory to Pharmacy
As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.See the Infographic
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