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September 29, 2020


Improving pharmaceutical supply chains in times of crisis: Best practices for modern label management

Lee Patty

Disrupted supply chains, shuttered operations and remote working: the ongoing pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses across the world. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, in particular, find themselves facing an array of new challenges amidst these unprecedented circumstances.

Pharmaceutical suppliers have to ensure life-saving medications are safely and rapidly available to those in need, while complying with local restrictions and taking necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of their own employees. Added to this is the race to develop, test and rollout potential vaccines and new treatments to combat the spread of COVID-19.

In the current climate, labeling plays a more critical role than ever before. It is an essential tool to ensure patient safety and pharmaceutical supply chain traceability. So, as a pharmaceutical manufacturer, how can you make sure your labeling is up to the task? Here are four main steps you can take to make sure your labeling is a help, and not a hindrance, to protecting your operations in times of crisis:

Tip #1: Help your IT department manage complexity

IT teams are often overtaxed. To make sure labeling doesn’t overburden IT with tasks like hard coding printer or system-specific label templates, select a label management system that enables your staff to quickly design or alter complex labels for any printer in a matter of minutes, without coding. This will help you process label changes more quickly, prevent errors and, ultimately, speed up time-to-market.

If your company is small, you might have the opposite challenge: a lack of internal IT resources to create and maintain your labels. If that’s the case, consider implementing a cloud-based labeling system. This will give you access to full label management capabilities without having to invest in on-premise IT resources and infrastructure. You can find out more about the advantages of labeling in the Cloud here.

Tip #2: Digitize your quality approval workflow

When our normal work processes are disrupted, errors can happen. This likelihood increases when those processes are manual. By digitally transforming quality assurance, you save time, increase efficiency and eliminate errors. For example, prior to implementing their label management system, Boehringer Ingelheim used a “Six-eye” principle for quality assurance, which involved three people checking each label to ensure its accuracy. By integrating their quality assurance workflow with their label management system, they saved valuable time and resources previously dedicated to manual quality assurance tasks. And they significantly reduced the risk of errors.

Tip #3: Use the Cloud to enable remote working

Perhaps more than ever before, cloud-based solutions have become a critical success factor to maintaining business continuity. With a cloud-based labeling platform, workers don’t have to go on site to design or update labels, as any authorized remote user can quickly and securely access a centralized database to change and print labels from anywhere at any location. You can also use the Cloud to rapidly deploy labeling to different production sites, contract manufacturers or other business partners. This will ensure that your supply chain continues to function, despite localized shutdowns and quarantines.

Tip #4: Build a labeling process for a post-pandemic world

This pandemic will have an end. Yet, how the business landscape will look on the other side of it is anyone’s guess. The key is to select a system that not only meets the current challenges, but prepares your operations for future ones as well. The current pandemic has already taught us a lot about the vulnerabilities in our current operations. Use that new knowledge and insight to improve your labeling process, so you’re prepared for the next disruption. 

Visit https://www.nicelabel.com/pharma to learn more about the digital future of pharmaceutical labeling. 

  • Cloud
  • Supply Chain
  • Labeling