Manufacturing speed and flexibility upgrades are welcome in all industries. Sometimes, though, the pharmaceutical sector is left behind when other fields sprint ahead into advanced processes. The latest innovation making its way into the pharma space, albeit slowly, is continuous manufacturing. This is a set of practices designed to automate elements of the manufacturing process and get pharmaceuticals from initial formulation to final release with minimal friction.
Promise and Challenge
According to Accenture, the use of new manufacturing techniques in the pharma sector represents a massive event for these companies, in light of how standardized production processes have remained over the past decades. Companies have finally been compelled to consider a change due to the potential reductions in batch production, quality control, deviation and cost.
Automation and mechanization of processes have become common features of manufacturing industries other than pharma. Regulatory barriers have kept a similar transformation from occurring in pharmaceuticals, but the tide is turning. Accenture explained that the first approval from the Food and Drug Administration came in 2016, and organizations are now considering how to convert their operations to the new model.
Accenture added that existing legacy machinery is a large potential impediment to revised manufacturing procedures. Companies have to rethink their approaches to technology, supply chain operations and employee practices to add the new capabilities.
In addition to technological change, pharmaceutical organizations will have to embrace a new mindset to update their manufacturing approaches. BioPharma Dive reported that this necessary shift may be occurring, even in the generic drug manufacturing sub-industry, which has been especially hesitant to make such alterations to processes.
Labeling as an Essential Component
For pharma manufacturing to get faster and more automated, every element of production will have to come along, including labeling. Mislabeled products entering the market could lead to recalls and FDA fines, and organizations must put in extraordinary effort to ensure their drugs are correctly labeled. When the FDA makes a change to its rules, that must be reflected immediately and consistently in labels.
Standardized, centralized labeling systems are pharma manufacturers’ prime option when getting their supply chain label printing processes in line with accelerating operations. These solutions draw their data from central sources of truth, ensuring products don’t go out using outdated templates or otherwise incorrect information. Furthermore, modern labeling solutions provide validation which is critical for regulated industries and connect manufacturers with their distribution and supply partners, as well as third-party logistics groups.
Connectivity and fast, accurate operations are clear goals for manufacturers of all kinds. They’re reachable in the heavily regulated and change-resistant pharma sector, with the right tech investments.