The bulk of the pharmaceutical industry, medical device manufacturers lack product visibility to the point of service

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NEW DELHI: Over 80% of domestic pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers lack product visibility up to the point of care, according to a study published by GS1 India and the Association of Healthcare Providers on the state of healthcare supply chain in India.

The study entitled “Building resilience in India’s post-covid healthcare supply chain” addresses challenges in the pharmaceutical and medical device supply chain – counterfeit drugs and devices, theft, waste, medication errors and lack of timely availability – putting patient safety at risk. The counterfeiting of medicines has become a problem of considerable proportions on a global scale.

The study mentions that more than half of the companies in the sector lose 1% of their sales due to expiry and theft. Substandard, spurious, falsely-labelled, falsified and counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products are often designed to appear genuine and unidentifiable to genuine medical products. Their growth was previously a threat, but it has only intensified with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

India’s supply chain, logistics and warehousing costs are 15% higher compared to other countries, and the world’s top pharmaceutical companies have an inventory period of 64 days compared to to their Indian counterparts having 98 days, he said.

Nearly 69% of survey respondents, comprising pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, lack the ability to implement a product recall beyond the distributor due to a lack of end-to-end visibility end.

“When it comes to healthcare, the role of standardization in GS1 standards is going to play a very vital and important role. Health care is about results. It is an industry, it also has financial implications, but what matters most are the health effects. And health outcomes very much depend on how care is delivered…” said Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD and CEO of Fortis Healthcare.

The health sector has been at the center of the COVID crisis. The challenges were many, starting with managing a multitude of impacted patients, to managing supply chain disruptions.

“One of the other important elements of healthcare is traceability. Traceability of implants, drugs, etc. is extremely important and something that needs to be done for the long term. If this is integrated into the digital systems of healthcare delivery systems, it would go a long way towards improving outcomes and making healthcare safer,” said Raghuvanshi.

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