Achieving sustainability in pharma can present unique challenges. However, the industry also holds significant potential to contribute to eco-friendly and socially responsible efforts. This article shows how you can align the company's core business activities with your environmental, social, and governance commitments by implementing Blockchain into your supply chain.
Sustainability can differentiate a company from its competitors, and enhance brand reputation. It can also lead to cost savings through resource efficiency and risk mitigation. By considering environmental and social impacts, companies can anticipate and adapt to emerging regulatory requirements, and market trends, as well as have stronger relationships with stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and local communities.
However, when trying to achieve full sustainability pharma companies may face a number of challenges:
Complex Supply Chains: The pharmaceutical supply chain involves numerous stakeholders, including suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and healthcare providers. Ensuring the smooth flow of products while maintaining their integrity requires sophisticated logistics, temperature-controlled storage, and following industry standards, all of which contribute to the cost. This complexity can also make it challenging to track and manage environmental impacts throughout the whole product journey.
High cost of innovation deployment: Attempts to deploy innovative technologies, such as advanced manufacturing processes, automation, data analytics, and supply chain digitization, into outdated systems require substantial effort and investment. To really benefit from the positive changes, most companies need to redesign their supply chain from scratch.
Regulatory requirements: The pharmaceutical industry is subject to stringent regulatory requirements to ensure safety and efficacy. These regulations can make it challenging to implement innovative sustainability practices in the supply chain. However, collaboration among industry peers and sharing best practices can help address these issues collectively.
Product lifecycle and waste management: The pharmaceutical industry faces challenges in managing product lifecycles, including post-consumer waste from expired or unused medications. Proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste is crucial to prevent environmental contamination. However, companies can not only implement waste management strategies such as recycling and responsible disposal but also prevent recalls by making their supply chains more transparent and efficient. Investing in research and development can make a significant impact as well as be cost-beneficial in the medium perspective.
Data Protection: Confidential data plays a significant role in the pharmaceutical industry. Companies invest heavily in developing and protecting their intellectual property, such as patents, to safeguard their innovations from competition, as well as to protect the supply chain data. However, data sharing between partners can pose some threats. That’s why pharma businesses should invest in innovations that will help them to protect their intellectual property as well as avoid legal fees, patent filings, and ongoing efforts to defend and enforce their rights, adding to the overall cost.
Ethical considerations: Sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry goes beyond environmental impacts. Ethical considerations include access to affordable medicines, availability of vital drugs, fair pricing, and responsible marketing practices. Companies can prioritize these aspects alongside environmental sustainability efforts to ensure a comprehensive approach to sustainability.
Blockchain provides a decentralized and immutable ledger that can be used to track and verify the entire lifecycle of products. This transparency enables companies and consumers to have better visibility into the origins and authenticity of goods, ensuring that sustainable practices are followed throughout the supply chain. It becomes easier to identify and eliminate inefficiencies, reduce waste, and enforce environmentally friendly practices.
Blockchain can streamline the certification and compliance processes related to sustainability standards. Smart contracts on the blockchain can automatically verify compliance with specific environmental regulations, ensuring that suppliers meet required standards. This reduces the potential for greenwashing and provides an efficient way to monitor and enforce sustainability practices across supply chains.
Blockchain can facilitate the tracking of carbon footprints and emissions throughout the supply chain. By recording relevant data, such as energy consumption and transportation methods, on the blockchain, companies can accurately calculate and verify their carbon emissions. This data transparency can incentivize companies to reduce their carbon footprints and make more sustainable choices.
Blockchain can improve the efficiency of supply chains, leading to reduced energy consumption and waste. By automating and streamlining processes through smart contracts, blockchain can minimize delays, eliminate intermediaries, and optimize logistics. This optimization helps to reduce the environmental impact associated with transportation, storage, and other aspects of the supply chain.
Blockchain can facilitate the implementation of circular economy models by enabling the tracking and verification of product lifecycle stages, such as recycling, refurbishing, and reusing. By creating a transparent and trustworthy system for recording these activities, blockchain can incentivize and promote adopting circular economy practices.
Blockchain can create a decentralized and tamper-proof system for tracking the provenance and authenticity of pharmaceutical products. By recording each transaction on the blockchain, stakeholders can verify the legitimacy of drugs at every point along the supply chain, reducing the risk of counterfeit drugs reaching patients.
Pharma companies may prioritize improving access to essential medicines, especially in underserved regions and developing countries. Blockchain paired with AI and ML can help prevent drug shortages and handle product recalls in a cost-effective and environmental-friendly way. This can involve partnering with governments, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure affordable and equitable access to life-saving medications through a seamless network.
At PharmaTrace we are committed to contributing to a more sustainable and socially responsible healthcare industry. That's why we help pharmaceutical companies to integrate sustainability into their supply chains as well as business strategies. This approach not only benefits the environment and society but also enhances the reputation, long-term cost-efficiency, and partner/customer loyalty of our client enterprises themselves.