Best of 2011: Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
It's the holidays, and we've got a special gift for you this year. Each day this week, Supply Chain Digital will select one top daily story from 2011 to feature here in our Best Of: 2011 section. Enjoy!
Help could be on the way for the pharmaceutical supply chain, as the United States Food and Drug Administration is calling on lawmakers to give the FDA more power to that it can tighten its supply chain security.
The FDA is particularly concerned with competition from foreign manufacturers, who have certain advantages in the industry. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Global Regulatory Operations and Policy Deborah Autor wants to see Congress update its laws so that the agency can refuse admission of a product into the U.S. if the overseas manufacturer delays, limits or denies inspection to its facilities.
Right now, the FDA only has that authority on food imports into the United States.
According to Autor, the FDA doesn’t have the authority to require importers and product owners to ensure that an imported drug complies with U.S. standards before being imported into the country. By changing the FDA’s authority, foreign drugs would go through the same process as the domestic drug supply chain.
Undoubtedly, upping the visibility and inspection process would have a positive effect on foreign drug manufacturers, who would be held accountable for quality in their products.
Among other issues concerning the medical supply chain and the FDA is product recall, as the FDA has no mandatory recall authority to drugs. According to Autor, this leaves the public in a precarious position.
The FDA is also seeking the authority to destroy harmful products at the border. Currently, the system stipulates that the process for destruction go through a time-intensive and costly hearing. Such a process is a deterrent to the FDA, as the agency is often forced to send back the potentially harmful drugs to the manufacturer, where there’s no guarantee that won’t be shipped out again.
The medical supply chain needs to be tightened, but Congress is walking a dangerous line when it comes to granting the FDA more power. More visibility is definitely needed, but how the federal government and the Food and Drug Administration go about adding that transparency will be the biggest question moving forward.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, beyond the boundaries mass movement of goods from A-B. The logistics company says the exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its experimentation in new autonomy solutions, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.