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How to build robust pharma supply chains in new territories


A few years ago, when the pharmaceutical sector in Europe and the United States was struggling, many multinational companies pursued opportunities in emerging markets. While the initial excitement may have now faded, there is still huge potential beyond the usual suspects. In fact, McKinsey predicts that emerging markets could double their pharma revenues by 2025.

China is often viewed as a key country to expand into but there are also big opportunities in Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. Beyond the BRIC nations there is more risk – for example, economic and political instability, as well as risks concerned with affordability and intellectual property. However, there are still open doors to explore – pharma companies should consider the best growth prospects and strategy for establishing themselves in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam; Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina; and Nigeria, Algeria, and members of the East African Community.

Why expand?

Emerging markets are attractive for a number of reasons. They provide a new income stream when traditional markets are shrinking or under-performing, while also offering an attractive growth prospect as many of these countries are seeing rising incomes and greater investment in healthcare and medicines.

Sadly, in many of these countries there are often under-diagnosed or under-treated diseases and therefore there is naturally an opportunity for pharma companies to pioneer solutions and cures. Interestingly, emerging markets can be at the forefront of innovation as governments and healthcare providers look for alternative ways to implement treatment. For example, pharma companies operating in Asia and Africa have developed and transformed  the industry when it comes providing innovative digital health and home delivery of drugs and treatments. Similarly, companies working in China are also driving pipeline innovation with many trials in oncology, hepatitis C virus and diabetes.

With such a diverse landscape, it is critical that pharma companies develop bespoke growth strategies for each individual country - products that are commercially successful in developed markets won’t necessarily do well in emerging markets and vice versa.

Onboarding international suppliers

One key focus for pharma companies is establishing a local network of trusted suppliers, which can be challenging and time-consuming when operating in completely new areas. With so many unknowns, Know your Supplier (KYS) is particularly critical. Conducting a thorough review of all potential suppliers at the onboarding stage can mitigate against a lot of the risk as the more a business knows about its supply chain, the greater its ability to withstand the ups and downs of newer, more volatile markets.

Because this is a huge task and requires teams to trawl through vast quantities of data, it makes sense to use an integrated and up-to-the-minute digital solution like Mastercard Track, now available through Tungsten Network.

Listen Mastercard's Emma Mills talk about the value Mastercard Track with Tungsten Network could benefit your business

Beginning in early 2019, customers will be able to maintain, retrieve and exchange key information relating to their existing and potential trading partners through the Track Trade Directory, a secure, permissioned repository of more than 150 million company registrations worldwide. This central directory will integrate feeds from around 4,500 compliance lists into one place, making the screening and on-boarding of suppliers more efficient.

Tungsten Network customers will be able to set alerts and receive regular reports on any changes in trading status of their suppliers. In particular, Mastercard Track will help companies cross reference their suppliers’ name against sanction, watch and law enforcement lists to help identify those who have connections with financial crime. This means companies can trade confidently, knowing that their vendors are being monitored for changes in compliance or registry status. This knowledge is particularly important in emerging markets where political situations are more sensitive and turbulent.

Demonstrating good due diligence is vital as pharma companies expand globally. Without support, the onboarding process would be a huge administrative undertaking but with a global trade platform like Mastercard Track much of the stress and headache is removed. It simplifies and enhances how companies around the world do business with each other and as well as handling KYS and compliance issues, it also gives suppliers better visibility into cash flow and therefore strengthens supply chain relationships.


About the author

Stanley Chia

As Tungsten Network’s Vice President and Global Head of Sales, Stanley is responsible for aligning his team’s goals with Corporate objectives and delivering upon revenue targets across Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific. He leads efforts to develop the business so as to achieve consistent, and sustainable long-term business growth. Stanley has a strong record of building High Performance Field Sales teams, and reliably driving revenue for quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year growth across Asia Pacific and North America. An award-winning Sales leader and mentor, Stanley is formally trained in Finance and started his career in the Financial Management Program at General Electric. Having served in the military, Stanley is a strong team-player and has worked for large corporations such as IBM, SAP, SAS, Oracle, and most recently, Lexmark Enterprise Software. He is a consummate professional and genuinely seeks the best outcome for Customers.



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