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SG Rao on the need for robust supply chain systems

Disclaimer: SG Rao is a veteran in the Indian pharmaceutical industry. Prior to co-founding Serturner, he was the head of supply chain management at Novartis India Limited for over 9 years. He also led distribution and logistics at Lupin Limited, Wockhardt Limited, and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited across 30 years.

How would you characterize your health system’s supply chain performance? Is it consistent? Is it reliable? SG Rao for Serturner, explains how to keep your supply chain robust despite the challenges of new market entrants and the future of it.

What are some operational challenges that our health systems are having with their supply chain?

Rao: I would have to say standardization. Our system is growing rapidly and we have multiple player variants on all fronts. We have hundreds of thousands of suppliers working with millions of providers and pharmacies treating over a billion people. Health systems are most probably not using the same medicines and consumables like everyone else and not ordering all of your supplies the same way. With the right supply chain partner, you can start tracking everything to standardize products and product ordering across all your care sites.

What technologies or methods would make the future of pharmaceutical supply chain robust?

Rao: Serialization has opened the door for digitally-enabled visibility. A unique identifier that regulators can track and trace at any point along the drug supply chain from manufacturer to distributor to pharmacy to patient is important. Indian and global regulatory requirements have created a need and an opportunity to establish an end-to-end value network that generates transformative information from this data across all segments of the pharmaceutical supply chain. Visibility into and across the supply chain is the key to making a difference on various levels.

What do you like most working with health systems on their supply chain management issues?

Rao: I love working with challenges. Been doing it for over 30 years now. Some of the biggest challenges are obviously natural disasters like floods and some of the most complicated would be increasing access to life-saving medications into extreme rural areas. We do whatever it takes to get you and your patients the supplies you need no matter the situation. We've partnered with the largest and smallest logistics providers who come to our warehouse at midnight. We've had our transporter driving trucks to providers whose own homes are at risk. It's always worth it in the end.

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