Coordinating the distribution networks in clinical supply chains A case of AstraZeneca’s pharmaceutical and lab kits networks

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master Thesis
Kanstos, Efthymios
Poulios, Ioannis
Decreasing profits and sharp globalized competition has driven the leading pharmaceutical companies to reduce the expenditures of new drug development by redesigning the clinical logistics processes. Under this context, the study managers of a clinical study of AstraZeneca in cardiovascular sector wanted to investigate the potential coordination of the distribution flows of the pharmaceutical kits and ancillary lab kits to the investigation sites as performed by the two strategic outsourcing partners, Fisher and Covance, respectively. As the study is at the last phase before the commercialization of the studied drug, multicentre trials on large groups of patients take place across the globe reaching 29 countries, 95 investigation sites and 13.500 patients. AstraZeneca’s R&D department considers that there are potentials of reducing the logistics costs on a so expanded supply chain network. The purpose of this study is to investigate the efficacy, the challenges and the potential benefits which can be reaped by the planned co-distribution channel, taking into account the performance of the two parallel supply chains which are mapped and evaluated considering the particularities of the regulatory framework that applies in the pharmaceutical industry. For the steps of the study various theoretical models from the literature have been used as a tool to gather and analyze the empirical data which are extracted by conducting semi-structured interviews with all the stakeholders that have a major role in the drug and lab kits supply chains and from internal documents of AstraZeneca. Identifying the weaknesses and the responsiveness of the two chains, a coordination plan is being proposed to reach to the future-state of the redesigned distribution network. This plan investigates the changes in the clinical logistics operations, the challenges and the constraints towards the completion of the codistribution channel. The findings show that the plan is feasible in terms of material and information coordination, but is should be cautious so that the efficacy and quality of the clinical study won’t be affected. Close collaboration between the stakeholders is required but the roles in the new coordinated logistics network must be distinct and beneficial for all of them. The structure of the co-distribution channel has to be adapted to the diversity of the regulatory landscape in the importing countries and therefore scrutinized investigation is needed in that field so that the shortage risk, that encounters high costs can be mitigated. Finally, the applicability of the findings to coordination projects of supply chains with similar characteristics with the ones of the clinical pharmaceutical sector is discussed.
Transport, Övrig industriell teknik och ekonomi, Transport, Other industrial engineering and economics
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