The pharmaceutical industry has been undergoing a massive overhaul. There’s a paradigm shift that is going on, to further improve productivity and quality. And the Pharma 4.0 initiative is the benchmark that the industry is trying to gradually upgrade to.

Through digitalization and the use of smarter tools and processes, Pharma 4.0 is expected to not only improve productivity but also ensure better quality and save time and costs, among several other benefits.

ISPE (International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology) is in the process of developing the roadmap to introduce Industry 4.0 to the pharmaceutical industry as Pharma 4.0.

What is Pharma 4.0?

Developed in 2017, Pharma 4.0 is an ISPE initiative that aims to improve the processes throughout the life cycle of pharmaceutical products with the help of modern smart technology.

It aims to do so by aligning the pharmaceutical industry with the philosophy of Industry 4.0.

Pharma 4.0 will enable the pharmaceutical industry to:

  • Improve processes
  • Eliminate error,
  • Provide greater transparency,
  • Allow predictive maintenance,
  • Have better control over each phase of the supply chain,
  • Make the system adaptive,
  • Enable seamless data exchange across the supply chain
  • Save time,
  • Cut costs by upto 20 per cent,
  • Self regulate,
  • Improve overall quality through automated analysis and diagnosis of issues and
  • Utilize the vast amount of data involved in the process.

On the flip side, the upgrade will demand updating the security system to combat the increased vulnerability of the automated systems.

How is it different from what has been going on?

Being one of the most regulated industries, the pharma sector demands thorough quality control, strict adherence to regulatory guidelines, and an excellent understanding of the supply chain to ensure minimum error possible.

While pharmaceutical companies have always carefully balanced and optimized the supply chain in order to meet the several strict criteria particular to the industry, adopting Pharma 4.0 will make things much easier for the industry in the long run.

As we have seen in the recent past, the need for quality pharmaceuticals has been steadily increasing over the years. All that means is that in the near future the pharmaceutical industry will be under tremendous pressure to optimize their supply chains and deliver high quality in the shortest time possible.

Implementing Pharma 4.0 will ensure that the industry is better prepared for tomorrow. Digitalization and automation of processes will streamline the supply chain, ensure better quality, reduce errors and save considerable time and cost.

This shift to Pharma 4.0 need not be done overnight. Identifying the most crucial problem statements and developing a strategy is key to the transformation. It’s best to take small steps that have considerable impact.

Research shows that currently, 70 percent of the data collected by the pharmaceutical industry is not even used. Implementing Pharma 4.0 will mean that the data is analyzed thoroughly and used for the betterment of the industry, thanks to big data and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The Industry prepares!

Many companies have understood the importance of adopting Pharma 4.0. They are typically following a set of steps to embrace the new philosophy.

First, they are treating the change as a business requirement, not as a digital transformation. This is because they understand that embracing Pharma 4.0 today would give them a competitive edge over other companies.

They are choosing a practical, step-by-step approach: choosing to invest in technologies that deliver quick returns and the best results. The companies that are embracing Pharma 4.0 are investing in people skilled in digital manufacturing.

And lastly, they are partnering with best-in-class solution providers to make the transition seamless.

The need for the future

Although Pharma 4.0 is currently being considered as a source of competitive advantage rather than a must-have, it won’t take too long for it to become an absolute need for the pharmaceutical industry. Eventually, the industry has to undergo that transformation, go for that upgrade and embrace Pharma 4.0.

Having said that, the best way to go about implementing Pharma 4.0 is by developing a digital transformation strategy, which focuses on small changes at a time and then gradually scaling before eventually migrating completely to Pharma 4.0.

While the cost impact of making the shift to a Pharma 4.0 setup can be seen as a deterrent, it is important to note that the cost will be quickly offset by an increase in productivity and a reduction in idle time and wastage.

If you belong to the pharmaceutical industry and want to know more about Pharma 4.0 or the new technologies that can give you a considerable edge over your competitors, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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