Forces, trends, and decisions in pharmaceutical supply chain management

Christian L. Rossetti, Robert Handfield, Kevin Dooley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify and examine the major forces that are changing the way biopharmaceutical medications are purchased, distributed, and sold throughout the supply chain. This will become important as healthcare reform moves forward, and logistics will be transformed in this industry. Design/methodology/approach: Multiple interviews with key informants at each level of the value chain were combined with manifest text analysis from practitioner articles to derive key insights into the primary change drivers influencing the future of the biopharmaceutical supply chain. Findings: The research discovered radical shifts in the structure of the biopharmaceutical supply chain. Future research into biopharmaceutical supply chain practices will need to explore three primary issues: How will supply chain member compensation influence the power of parties within the network? How will the role of supply chain intermediaries change the landscape of medication delivery to the end customer? What impact will the role of regulatory constraints on product pedigree and proliferation have on this network? The relationship between these forces is mediated by operations strategy concerning inventory policy, supply chain visibility, and desired service levels. Research limitations/implications: The research was based on multiple interviews with a convenience sample, as well as text analysis from practitioner articles. These findings are an initial step to guide future more in-depth research for this dynamic and contextually rich supply chain environment that impacts consumers in every country in the world. Originality/value: The paper adds insights into the pharmaceutical supply chain, examining this from multiple perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-622
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011


  • Biopharmaceutical
  • Distribution strategy
  • Intermediaries
  • Supply chain
  • Supply chain management
  • Supply chain regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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