Towards a new approach to modelling pharmaceutical supply chains in a changing technological landscape


*Corresponding author 
Department of Engineering, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


The industrial digitalisation of manufacturing economies promises today’s medicines manufacturers unprecedented technological opportunities.  The same manufacturers, however, are also experiencing increasing pressure from healthcare systems to control costs. In the UK, for example, new digital technologies are expected to bring £22.4bn worth benefits to the pharmaceutical sector alone, according to estimates from the Made Smarter review (1). At the same time, government cost-cutting policies centred on promoting generic drugs and a stricter reimbursement environment are presenting the pharmaceutical industry with some challenges (2). In addition, socio-political changes such as an ageing population and less clear international sourcing arrangements are providing additional cost pressures.

As the industrial landscape evolves, most reconfiguration opportunities for pharmaceutical supply chains (PSCs) arise from the adoption of transformative technologies such as continuous medicine manufacturing, as well as from the development of more patient-centric, distributed and inventory-light delivery models (3). If we are to understa ...