Easing Supply Chain Complexity

SupplyScape offers consulting services for global serialization and collaboration.

SupplyScape, which sells supply chain solutions for the pharmaceutical industry, is offering an expanded set of strategic consulting services.

Robin Koh, chief strategy officer of SupplyScape, said the new services, which rolled out May 28, will help pharmacy manufacturers and retailers deal with increasingly complex and globalized supply chain issues.

"Pharmaceutical companies are grappling with different serialization requirements coming in," Koh said. "They are trying to figure out how to harmonize their methodologies. A lot of branded pharmaceutical manufacturers are global, where wholesalers and retailers tend to be more U.S.-focused. That drives different requirements within serialization, such as how a serial number is used."

Koh said that in the United States, many companies assume they can assign their own serial numbers to pharmaceutical products, while in some European countries the government assigns serial numbers.

"We want to ensure those numbers don't collide," he said. "We don't want to reach the point where certain pharmacy chains won't recognize certain serial numbers."

Once a company enacts a coherent serialization strategy, Koh said it also still must obtain an understanding of the ramifications of serial numbers within barcoding and RFID systems.

"You must know the impact on certain business processes, such as reconciliation," he said. "You must know not just that you have 20 bottles on your shelf, but which 20 bottles."

By coupling business process alignment services with the SupplyScape e-Pedigree supply chain security solution, Koh said companies can automatically track when certain drug bottles will expire, a process that is usually performed manually.

Koh said SupplyScape's supply chain collaboration services can help companies effectively perform pharmaceutical tracking and tracing.

"By definition, these processes are supply chain-wide and not just deployed within the four walls of anyone," he said. "A company must understand the issues of interoperability so they are able to function on a supply chain-wide basis."

Koh said the ultimate goal of SupplyScape's strategic consulting services is to ensure that consumers are protected from counterfeit drugs.

"We're in the next phase," he said. "It's not, -Should I be doing this,' but, -How should I be doing this?'"

Paul Rudolf, former senior policy analyst for medical affairs for the Food and Drug Administration, said SupplyScape customers can obtain increased business value by investing in mass serialization, RFID and supply chain security.

"Today's pharmaceutical and healthcare networks are intricate and complicated, but forces are coming together for the pharmaceutical industry to realize the vision outlined in the FDA's Combating Counterfeit Drugs report," Rudolf said.

Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.