Top pharma supply chain associations

A ruined shipment of medicine can cost more than lost revenue – it can put patients at risk. But as many in the industry will attest, the challenge of efficiently navigating the route from the point of manufacture to the end-user can be a difficult and labor-intensive task. Thankfully, a raft of industry associations seek to help smooth that path and support stakeholders tasked with transporting and distributing medicines.

Global Cold Chain Alliance  (GCCA)

Established: 2007
Based: United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Guatemala, India

Cold storage capacity has steadily increased in recent years on the back of the construction of a network of new refrigerated warehouses in emerging markets across the world.

The GCCA supports 1,300 companies in 75 countries that rely on temperature-controlled supply chains. The group has links with other networks, including the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW), the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA) and the International Association for Cold Storage Construction (IACSC).

Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA)

Established: 1876
Based: United States

The role of the distributor shipping pharmaceutical goods has changed a lot over the 140 years that the alliance has been around. Professionals are expected to ensure supply chains function safely and efficiently. The HDA has produced resources to support the implementation of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (the DSCSA and its executives have testified before the US Congress on healthcare-related matters.

GS1 – supply chain standards

Established: 1974
Based: Offices in over 100 countries around the world.

GS1 is the most widely-used supply chain standard provider in the world – more than two million companies rely on its standards. Its healthcare division monitors supply chains distributing pharmaceuticals, medical devices and surgical supplies.

The association is best known for the GS1 barcode – which are scanned about six billion times a day. The barcode improves visibility in the supply of materials, enhances security within medicine distribution and helps inventory management.

Pharma Logistics IQ’s Sea Freight Working group

Established: 2015
Based: Europe

The pharma logistics industry is always looking at alternatives to air transportation and sea freight is a cost-effective option, but the handing of refrigerated containers – or reefers – throws up its own challenges around quality control and liability.

The Sea Freight Working group has created a best practice guide on how to use reefers, address relevant liability issues and collaborate effectively with shipping lines.


Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI)

Established: 2006
Based: United States

The trade body supports pharma and healthcare groups and seeks to establish better business conditions and supply chain management practices. The association provides its own guidance documents as well as self-assessment and audit templates.

Back in April 2017, the PSCI joined CHWMEG to host a seminar on waste issues for European manufacturers. Members of the initiative include: Abbvie, Allergan, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.  

Cool Chain Association (CCA)

Established: 2003
Based: The Netherlands and Luxembourg

The CCA is focused on shrinking wastage and boosting efficiency in temperature controlled logistics. The association seeks to reduce carbon emissions and logistical inefficiencies through collaboration and education initiatives with members. The CCA is known for the creation of Cool Chain Quality Indicators ­­– a benchmarking system to examine the quality of temperature controlled distribution. The metrics share similarities with other industry ISO 9000 quality management systems. 

Pharma Team Up

Established: 2016
Based: London

Not-for-profit pharma-logistics integration initiative Team-Up seeks to address the hurdles found in supply chain collaboration. Founder Alan Kennedy says these challenges can often be attributed to the failure to ensure all supply chain stakeholders are on the “same cultural page”.

GDP Association

Established: 2013
Based: Germany

Originally launched as an interest group of the ECA Foundation, the GDP Association represents all stakeholders from the pharmaceutical industry involved in Good Distribution Practice (GDP) matters.  The alliance, which is free to join, has a strong focus on Europe. One of its first ventures back in 2013 was to provide insight to support the interpretation of the EU GDP guideline.

International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA)

Established: 1968
Based: Switzerland

Focused on collaboration and dialogue between global players in the wider healthcare industry, the IFPMA seeks to address some of the complexities involved in the multinational manufacturing and the parallel distribution of medicines.

According to the network, it takes about 300 days to complete the transition from drug manufacture to granting patient access. The timely and reliable administration of medicines and vaccines can only be achieved on an industry-wide basis if there is regular communication between the world’s regulatory authorities, the IFPMA believes. Pfizer CEO Ian Read is president of the association.

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