A Preliminary Examination of Risk in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain (PSC) in the National Health Service (NHS)


The effective management of pharmaceuticals in the National Health Service (NHS) is critical to patient welfare thus any risks attached to this must be identified and controlled. At a very basic level, risks in the pharmaceutical supply chain are associated with product discontinuity, product shortages, poor performance, patient safety/dispensing errors, and technological errors (causing stock shortages in pharmacies) to name but a few, all of which incur risk through disruption to the system. Current indications suggest that the pharmaceutical industry and NHS practitioners alike have their concerns as to the use of generic supply chain strategies in association with what is perceived to be a specialist product (pharmaceuticals). The aim of the study undertaken was to gain a more realistic understanding of the nature and prevalence of risk in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain (PSC) to be used as a basis for a more rigorous research project incorporating in-vestigation in the UK, Europe and USA. Data was collected via a workshop forum held in November 2005. The outputs of the workshop indicated that there were thirty-five prevalent risks. The risks were rated using risk assessment catego-ries such as impact, occurrence and controllability. The findings indicated that the risks identified are similar to those prevalent in industrial supply chains, regardless of the idiosyncrasies of pharmaceuticals. However, the group consen-sus was that caution must be applied in how such risks are addressed, as there are aspects of the product that highlight its uniqueness e.g. criticality.

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Breen, L. (2008) A Preliminary Examination of Risk in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain (PSC) in the National Health Service (NHS). Journal of Service Science and Management, 1, 193-199. doi: 10.4236/jssm.2008.12020.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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