Brad Pawlowski, Managing Director and Life Sciences Supply Chain Lead at Accenture, on the industry challenges that affect the supply chain.

How did you get interested in the life science industry?
Nearly 20 years ago, I joined Accenture after graduating from Princeton in Mechanical Engineering. I’ve spent the majority of my career working with life sciences and consumer products clients to improve their supply chain capabilities and deliver business transformation programs. It is easy to get motivated by the life sciences industry because at the end of the day the bottom line is helping people live happy, healthy lives. I like knowing my contributions are helping to reach that end.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of helping our life science clients transform their supply chains?
The most fulfilling aspect is working hand in hand with our clients to improve the process of getting the right medicines to the right people at the right time. The traditional supply chain model is evolving and it is exciting to help shape new patient-centric, dynamic and responsive supply chain models. Meeting patient outcomes requires a high level of service, agility and flexibility but must still solve for cost effectiveness, margin retention and growth, and business profitability. It is fulfilling to see this evolution through our client’s businesses every day.

Brad Pawlowski

Managing Director and Life Sciences Supply Chain Lead, Accenture

Medicine is becoming more personalized, and pharmaceutical companies are focusing on the services that accompany the medication.

Life Sciences companies seem to face increasing complexity in their supply chains today, what is the reason for that?
All of the industry challenges today have an effect on the supply chain! Pharmaceutical companies have less in the pipeline especially when it comes to blockbuster drugs and the duration of clinical trials has increased dramatically. Medicine is becoming more personalized, and pharmaceutical companies are focusing on the services that accompany the medication. The expansion into emerging markets by both pharmaceutical and device manufacturers with untested strategies, new product mixes and limited market insights can make local market penetration unpredictable and expensive. Both sectors face vacillating fuel and commodity prices that complicate logistics. Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures occur frequently and most of all, patient needs are changing.

Is risk a growing concern?
Regulatory pressures on product safety and integrity are increasing, and the need for brand protection means that serialization capabilities need to be designed into the supply chain effectively. Our clients are focused on enhanced product visibility across the end-to-end supply chain, reducing their cost of goods sold and working capital, creating better product revenue streams and product integrity, patient services and ultimately ensuring the safety of all patients.

How are new technologies and rapid advancements in medical devices affecting the life sciences supply chain?
It goes back to the importance of a patient-centric, dynamic and responsive supply chain. We see the development of a small injection device to deliver insulin for the treatment of diabetes. As the patient’s blood sugar level is monitored and the results are sent to an application in the cloud, the device is able to deliver the correct amount of insulin. This type of technology is introducing new supply chain opportunities.

What do you see as the biggest concern for life sciences companies in terms of managing their supply chain? (Environmental concerns, talent, volatile commodity pricing, legislation, digital adoption, serialization, generics, counterfeiting, customer fragmentation and expectations…?)
I would answer in a different way. It is imperative that supply chain leaders leverage their capabilities to be more agile, responsive and customer-focused. If they incorporate those elements into all aspects of their end-to-end supply chain, they are off to a good start. Finally, finding and keeping supply chain talent has always been an issue and has become exacerbated by the rapid increase in the complexity of today’s supply chains. Nearly every client raises this as an issue.