COVID-19 has brought the complex relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and its customers to the forefront. Some businesses in the industry like AstraDeneca (AZ) have donated face masks and personal protective gear (PPD), in an attempt to garner positive PR while weathering the storm.
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Others have joined the global race to develop the first vaccine for COVID-19. According to The Straits Times, “several Singapore companies have already developed test kits, including some which can yield accurate results within 10 minutes and do not need specialised equipment or laboratory-trained personnel.”
Faced with increased demand on their limited resources from both customer demand and R&D efforts, maintaining a competitive edge has become more critical for pharmaceutical SMEs than ever.
On the other hand, pharmaceutical SMEs are still beholden to ensure compliance with stringent regulations and practices, or risk another incident like the Johnson & Johnson cancer case.
To meet both objectives, pharmaceutical SMEs have been looking to digitalisation as a solution. The hope is that embracing Industry 4.0 will help companies maintain their competitive edge by delivering cost savings and efficiency gains, while making it easier to ensure regulatory compliance at the same time.
In this article, we will show three examples of how pharmaceutical SMEs like yours can benefit from implementing an IT solution for the purpose of digitalising your business processes.
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Tidying Up Inventory and Material Management Processes
Are your First Expired, First Out (FEFO) processes set up properly? Pharmaceutical companies need to maintain a stock of perishable raw materials for manufacturing their drugs. To reduce wastage and avoid incurring preventable costs, pharmaceutical SMEs require specialised inventory control processes.
IT solutions with Inventory management functionalities, such as the inventory management module on a ERP software, organises procurement processes and controls material wastage. These solutions can monitor inventory levels and set up expiry alerts, ensuring that FEFO-based material consumption takes place.
Up-to-date inventory status reports can be quickly created from the data, which can then be used for proper planning of material requirements. This eliminates even more potential wastage during the procurement process.
All of this provides visibility into inventory and material management, and helps pharmaceutical firms stay competitive through cost savings.
Ensuring Consistency In Recipe Management
Pharmaceutical SMEs involved in manufacturing of medicines and drugs often face issues with recipe management. Recipes can be long, complex, and subject to a lot of specific requirements.
This means that if your SME is one of those involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing, it needs to keep on top of your formulations. Profit margins are controlled through the proper optimisation of each drug recipe, to ensure that price balances with effectiveness. This allows you to price your products as competitively as possible.
One way you can manage your recipes is with the aid of a suitable IT solution. For example. an ERP software can store your critical drug recipe securely and safely within a single database, while providing ease of access to the relevant departments and personnel whenever needed.
Your business can then produce batches according to a consistent formula that has passed safety and quality checks. This makes the production process seamless and efficient, without the worry of possible errors and mistakes.
It also has the added benefit of eliminating any compliance and regulatory issues that might have resulted from inconsistent recipe management.
Keeping Document Control and Distribution Management Data Updated
The pharmaceutical industry has some of the most stringent regulations in the world. To avoid falling afoul of them, it is imperative that pharmaceutical SMEs like yours keep meticulous documentation of processes, individual batches, historical laboratory data, and more.
Regulatory standards change all the time, and pharmaceutical SMEs need to be able to stay ahead of possible problems. For example, if a recall for a specific batch is required, it will incur less cost to be able to know exactly where those individual batches are.
This calls for a batch or lot tracking solution, such as the lot tracking module on an ERP software. Such a solution can monitor batches of your products from the material acquisition stage to the in-progress quality check (IPQC) stage.
Speaking of quality control, solutions such as ERP software can also accommodate regular quality control (QC) tests, with results tracking. This can be extended to the implementation of corrective action at any stage in the distribution process.
Documentation of historical data is also necessary for auditing purposes. Pharmaceutical SMEs need to be compliant and keep the historical data of every process and related documentation. This allows for audit checks and future analysis when required.
However, with so much data to keep track of, a centralised database is key. This allows laboratory information to be accessed and updated seamlessly by different departments without fuss.
Maintaining Competitiveness And Compliance In The Pharmaceutical Industry With Digitalisation
More than 30 of the world’s top pharmaceutical and medical technology firms have a presence in Singapore. In the face of stiff competition, local pharmaceutical SMEs need to maintain their competitive edge.
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The current global race to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine has made competition within the industry even tougher. Pharmaceutical SMEs also need to contend with potential changes in pharmaceutical operations, while not losing sight of the need to comply with industry regulations.
To effectively resolve the unique challenges that SMEs in the pharmaceutical industry face, they must be able to quickly identify and resolve any issues that might impact their business processes. This is only possible if such businesses can achieve full visibility in their business processes.
An ERP software represents the ideal solution for pharmaceutical SMEs in this regard, as they integrate every business function and separate business systems to ensure real-time flow of data across the organisation and present stakeholders with a single source of truth.
With an ERP software, individual stakeholders in a pharmaceutical SME can access a secure centralised database, which can contain relevant data for their work such as recipe formulations, laboratory information, and inventory modules.
All this data can then be easily accessed in real-time for the purposes of optimising production and maintaining regulatory compliance, and ensure that your SME maintains its edge in an increasingly competitive pharmaceutical industry.
In effect, pharmaceutical SMEs like yours must be able to conduct business "in the moment", or to make prompt decisions informed by a steady flow of real-time data in order to remain competitive and compliant with regulations. To learn more about how you can make this possible by digitalising your business, click the banner below.