Evolution of the UK pharma supply chain

adobestock_84448950Since the mid-noughties the pharma supply chain has been in a period of change. We saw the advent of a single badged Direct to Pharmacy (“DTP”) model introduced by Pfizer in early 2007 with Unichem as their preferred agent (now Alliance Healthcare (Distribution) Limited). This was followed by AstraZeneca a year later with another DTP model – but this time with two agents – Unichem and AAH.

Other pharma companies looked at less onerous means of changing their supply chain model – preferring to reduce the number of wholesalers they used (Reduced Wholesale Models – “RWM”), capturing some of the benefits of the DTP model, without the larger infrastructure projects that DTP commanded. These have proven to be the most widespread models adopted by pharma companies.

DTP models have been introduced in “DTP Lite” form by some of the smaller pharma companies, but reduced wholesale models have been bar far the most popular.

Wholesalers have had to change the way they work to fit in with the changing supply chain. Some have invested in pre-wholesale and now have integrated pre-wholesale and wholesale businesses. Some have moved away from pre-wholesale and focused on more niche areas such as dispensing doctors and hospital distribution.

As more biologics have come to the market with their high prices, there has also been an increased focus on making clinical homecare work for all parties in the supply chain (NHS, pharma, patient, homecare company). These patient delivery models enable the pharma companies to get ever closer to the patient while facilitating the opportunity for Patient Support Programs (“PSP”) to support patient adherence and compliance.

How we can help you

adobestock_57667499At Andrew Carr Associates we have first-hand experience of successfully selecting the right supply chain model for your company – even tailored product by product – and managing all the above supply chain changes through negotiation and on to implementation.

Making a change in your supply chain involves many skills, including understanding the UK reimbursement mechanism, the different drug tariffs and how these work, as well as finance, and change management and we can provide help and guidance in all these areas.

The opportunities and challenges are different for each pharma manufacturer, but we are confident that our skills can help you with the right decision for your organisation, which will release value, reduce complexity and put you more in control of your supply chain.


If you are considering a change to you supply chain or would like to hear more about what we have to offer, then please telephone or contact us via email to schedule a no-commitment meeting. Please also look at our testimonials to see what others think of our service.