Clarkston Consulting’s life sciences and supply chain experts recently attended the 2023 Bio Supply Management Alliance (BSMA) annual conference in Foster City, California. The two-day event centered around the theme “Advancing the Leading Edge of the Bio-pharma Supply Chain,” where discussion topics and panels focused on industry capabilities in the critical areas of clinical and commercial supply and operations, transportation and logistics, digital transformation, and overall supply chain management. Below, our Clarkston stewards recapped some of their key takeaways from BSMA 2023.
Key Takeaways from BSMA 2023
- Important considerations when transitioning from clinical to commercial. Clarkston’s Bob Lamont, partner, moderated a panel discussion on the considerations for evolving clinical supply chains ahead of commercial readiness. The panel highlighted the importance of end-to-end business processes with clear roles and responsibilities, strong partnerships, system and data capabilities, and established governance. Some best practices discussed included having detailed product launch checklists, early contracting with third-party logistics (3PLs), working with contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) during the transition, establishing dedicated cross-functional product launch teams, and ensuring you had a plan for returned product.
- ERP for pharma supply chains in clinical stage. The question of whether or not to use enterprise resource planning (ERP) for pharma supply chains in clinical stage was a hot debate. The advocates for ERP argued the value of centralized data, earlier standardization of processes, and enterprise-wide execution efficiency. The opposers argued vehemently that the bureaucracy and rigidity of ERP doesn’t support the agile needs of a clinical stage supply chain, and that notwithstanding, ERP is cost-prohibitive. There was unanimous agreement that ERP is needed for commercial readiness, and it must be a company-driven initiative with cross-functional organizational alignment.
- Supply planning strategies for clinical trials. Optimizing efficiencies in supply chains for critical trials is critical, as there is no room for error. At BSMA 2023, there was highly engaging conversation surrounding the topic of strong supply planning strategies for clinical trials. Most notably, there was clear alignment on the need for agility, regular iteration, and comprehensive consideration of a multitude of factors – including demand variability, lead time, expiry, inventory policies, and more.
- Recruiting and retaining talent in the supply chain. The talent gap panel addressed some of the challenges and recent changes when recruiting and retaining supply chain talent. One positive trend since the pandemic is an uptick in students interested in the supply chain field, mainly a result of the highly publicized pandemic supply constraints. Case competitions at colleges were considered a good approach to engaging with young talent. However, some of the major challenges discussed included retaining young individuals coming into the space with significant drive. The panel considered a number of ways to better direct that drive and engage with young talent, including transparency in promotion requirements and cross-functional learning opportunities.
- Renewed focus on sustainability. As supply chains are starting to loosen up and costs are resettling, companies have a renewed focus on investments in sustainability. This includes evaluating suppliers based on their value proposition being aligned with achieving company sustainability goals. More sustainable supply chains can enable cost and waste reductions, better resource utilization, and a lower carbon footprint for organizations.
- The November 2023 DSCSA serialization deadline. Beginning on November 27, 2023, the final requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) will take effect, giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more regulatory leverage in the drug supply chain and adding layers of protection to enhance supply chain security. Though DSCSA wasn’t a main topic for any panel, it was raised several times, as there are significant gaps between manufacturers and distributors, which could lead to potential supply chain disruption and continued frustration for many pharma supply chain industry stakeholders.
BSMA 2023 and Beyond
This year’s BSMA Conference was another exciting time to connect with supply chain leaders to discuss emerging supply chain trends, ongoing challenges, and potential opportunities. As we continue to navigate a post-pandemic environment – one feeling the pressures of inflation, labor shortages, and the need for greater transparency – supply chain leaders will need to prioritize increased visibility, resilience, and sustainability in their day-to-day operations.
To chat more about the BSMA conference or emerging trends in the supply chain space, connect with us today.
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Contributions from Nicole Sharp