Complicated Reverse Logistics in Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

Complicated Reverse Logistics in Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

Ajay Khosla, General Manager, Jaipur Golden Transport, explains to Cargo Insights that, in India, the pharmaceutical sector is growing. By 2030, it could increase by even more than three times, reaching 130 billion US dollars. Over the past few years, both the number of brands and sales has been steadily rising. Around 25,000 marketing firms and more than 60,000 brands are believed to be present in the market.

Despite this boom, there should be concern about the increasing frequency of product recalls, reports of counterfeit drugs, and concerns about out-of-date inventory on both domestic and international markets. The challenges that come with this boom include accurately estimating demand, controlling costs, and managing complex transportation and cold-chain requirements while infrastructure becomes more limited. Safety is still an issue because a single truckload of medicines can be worth millions of dollars. Large-scale seizures of expired pharmaceuticals sold under false labels in recent years have brought into question the industry’s credibility and the effectiveness of the supply chain system. Losses from product recall and expired drug seizures have also impacted major pharma players.

Pharmaceutical logistics typically deals with manufacturing, processing, material shipping, and sourcing. Logistics service providers (LSPs) also handle activities associated with the delivery of manufactured goods to their customers. LSPs play a critical role in the operation of any pharmaceutical company. The reason for this is that they are responsible for delivering equipment and drugs on time, as there are times when the patient requires it urgently and every second counts.

Interest in reverse logistics in supply chain management has grown significantly over the last two decades.

Previously, only the shipping delivery window of a box was used to track it. Nowadays, pharmaceutical companies expect LSPs to monitor each box separately based on different security parameters. Because some vaccines may be transported at temperatures ranging from -76° to -124°F (-60° to -80° C), LSPs also check to see if a box designed to sit upright has been turned on its side. Temperature monitors ensure that packages are kept at the appropriate temperature. Furthermore, having this data available in real-time reduces the number of products that must be discarded because they exceeded temperature or other standards. Failures in temperature-control logistics cost the biopharmaceutical industry approximately $35 billion per year. 

Medication waste is a social issue that affects both public health and the environment. SCM professionals must ensure product integrity and stability while adhering to current technology and regulations. They specifically recognise the need to improve the collection and return of unused medication from consumers to the reverse logistics system. Medicine waste is primarily caused by improper disposal of unused or expired drugs, metabolic waste, and waste generated by industrial processes. Pharmaceutical products are largely responsible for waste because they contain drugs that are no longer being used or have expired.

As a result, the reverse logistics problem in the Indian pharmaceutical industry is extremely complicated. Interest in reverse logistics in supply chain management has grown significantly over the last two decades. Because medications are typically high-value chemicals that are critical to consumers’ health, effective reverse logistics systems are required in the pharmaceutical industry to manage product returns, expired stock, and product recalls.

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