Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, and Biotechnology: Key Supply Chain Trends

Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences: Industry Supply Chain Overview

The United States is a leader in the pharmaceutical and life science industry, with a market size of over $75 billion in 2018. The sector contributes over $1.25 trillion annually to the industry’s supply chain. The table below represents the 2018 U.S. distribution channels for prescription drugs.

U.S. Pharmaceutical
Distribution Channels
USD (2018)
Chain Stores 140.0
Mail Service 120.7
Independent 50.1
Food Stores 25.7
Clinics 80.8
Non-federal Hospitals 36.4
Long-term Care 5.6
HMO 2.0
Home Health Care 5.6
Federal Facilities 2.7
Miscellaneous 1.3

The industry supply chain relies heavily on software technology, including Custom-Off-The Shelf (COTS) software applications, Lab Information Systems (LIMS), Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN), Document Management, Project Management, Analytic Software, and wide range of other systems that support the drug development process. The industry relies heavily on Lab automation, High Throughput Screening, and other equipment used for collecting data. Manufacturing and packaging equipment prepares drugs for shipment.

The sector requires an extensive transportation infrastructure — distribution channels of products for final consumption.  The industry contributes significantly to new drug development and the introduction of products to market through innovative and expensive R&D.

Due to consumer and industry pressures to reduce costs and “Time to Market,” Pharmaceutical companies are changing the way R&D currently operates and increase efficiencies within the supply chain. To reduce costs and efficiently consolidate resources, the industry is trending towards utilizing Contract Research Organizations (CROs) to conduct Clinical Trials, and outsourcing manufacturing when possible.

Pharmaceutical Industry Trends

The following are key industry trends focused on reducing costs, time to market, and impact the supply chain:

1. Big Data, Analytics, and Cloud Computing

Cloud computing, Big Data, and Analytic solutions assist in decision making, improve workflows and prioritize resources to support Clinical Trials. The market for Big Data and analytics services is currently over $16.9 Billion. The projected annual growth rate for implementation of Big Data solutions is 40%, with Healthcare investments up to $371.5 Million. When applied to the Drug Development Process, the advantages of implementing this technology in the Pharma sector can reduce costs, time to market, enhanced quality and efficiency, and provide a collaborative environment for Contract Research Organizations (CROs) to work at multiple locations.

2. Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices provide real-time monitoring of manufacturing equipment and used for preventive maintenance reducing equipment downtime and improved supply chain management. Mobile applications collect patient’s information such as blood pressure and remind them to take medications as prescribed.

3. FDA Regulations

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating the Pharmaceutical industry. FDA rules and guidelines have a direct impact on the supply chain. For example, new FDA Track-and-Trace requirements have mandated drug manufacturers to provide a process to track and record a drug’s current and past locations through the supply chain. Serialization equipment and software are used to track location throughout the supply-chain and confirm authenticity before sale, dispensing, return, or recall. State of the art technology is required to implement this regulation.

4. On-demand delivery of prescription drugs

Home-based healthcare is a high growth industry with many online distribution models designed to deliver prescription drugs to patients that are unable to leave their homes. Remote monitoring is a growing market expected to become a popular industry trend.

Top Growth Supply Chain Markets

The following table lists NAICS codes and Industry Sectors that contribute to the Pharmaceutical and life science industry. Income growth trends identify industries to target for sales. Product names represent goods and services (Commodities) detailed in our Market Research Reports. AllBizOps recommends using the table to start an Industry Analysis and identify which reports will be needed to complete your analysis.

Products, Services &
Commodities Covered
List Size
Medicinal and botanical manufacturing325411acetylsalicylic acid manufacturing, adrenal derivatives, uncompounded agar-agar, amphetamines, anaesthetics, antibiotics, anticholinergics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, ascorbic vitamin c, atropine, barbiturates, barbituric, brucine, caffeine, basic chemicals High1.278
Pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing325412adrenal, medicinal preparations, drug manufacturing, analgesic, anesthetic, angiourographic, diagnostic, antacid, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antibiotic, antidepressant, antihistamine, antineoplastic, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, barbiturate, bariumHigh112
Scientific research and development services541711, 541712, 541713, 541714, 541715, 541720, 927110nanobiotechnologies, experimental development laboratories, nanotechnology services, field science, biotechnology, development laboratory services, bacteriology, biology, botany, chemical sciences, entomology, environmental science, genetics, health, industrial, medical, physical, veterinary, cloning, experimental, DNA, technologies, microarrays High81,784

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