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Key sources of operational inefficiency in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Papalexi, Marina and Bamford, David and Breen, Liz (2019) Key sources of operational inefficiency in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. ISSN 1359-8546 (In Press)

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Abstract

Purpose: This study explores the downstream Pharmaceutical Supply Chain (PSC) and provides insight to the delivery process of medicines and associated operational inefficiencies. Design/methodology/approach: An exploratory, qualitative approach was adopted to examine PSC inefficiency within two European contexts: the UK and Greece. Data was gathered through interviews and a thematic analysis conducted to analyse the data and identify challenges faced by both supply chains. Findings: The medicines delivery system needs to be enhanced in terms of quality, visibility, speed and cost in order to perform effectively. The findings demonstrated that although the healthcare supply chains in the two European contexts have different operational structures, the results are in concordance with each other. Financial, communication, waste and complexity issues were the major concerns. Research limitations/implications: To our knowledge this is the first study to examine aspects of the medicines supply chain via a cross-case analysis in the UK and Greece and extends the body of knowledge. A broader sample of responses is warranted to further validate these findings. Practical implications: The study outputs can inform pharmacies’ strategic to instigate targeted improvement interventions. The implications of which may be extrapolated further to other European healthcare organisations. Originality/value: This research contributes to the academic literature by adding further theoretical insights to supply chain strategy development, especially those that have been characterised as highly complex. The study identifies 4 key areas of intervention needed within this supply chain (in both countries) to promote higher level efficiencies and effectiveness.

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