Taking Stock: Building a better TPRM program

Aug. 7, 2023
How a robust third-party risk management solution can alleviate drug supply chain pressures

Pharmaceuticals are crucial for patient health — and drug shortages pose challenges to meeting these needs. 

Procurement and supply chain teams have worked miracles to keep the drug supply chains ‘alive and kicking.’ And it’s getting better. Industry continues to resolve shortages of medicines such as amoxicillin and hydrocortisone, from their peak of 295 in December 2022 to 139 in April 2023. At the same time, pharma continues to stem the flow of counterfeit drugs entering supply chains. 

Procurement and supply chain leaders can further alleviate the pressures on drug supply chains for all stakeholders by deploying or strengthening third-party risk management (TPRM) solutions and driving pharmacovigilance. These solutions can help pharma companies ensure they are producing enough drugs with safety and security in mind.

Managing risks holistically

Pharma companies are faced with several risks within their supply chains, and need to be equipped with the insights, processes and solutions to mitigate these risks and drive resilience.

A TPRM solution can help manage pharma’s third-party ecosystem throughout the life cycle of these relationships and across multiple risk domains. Solutions provide a centralized system of record of all third parties and a unified view of the risks they could bring. User-friendly platforms create workflows for automating business processes such as risk assessments, due diligence, continuous monitoring and issues management. AI can offer further automation by learning from decisions made by risk experts over time and applying this learning to prediction, decision support and validation.

TPRM solutions provide risk scores and help ensure third parties are put through comprehensive due diligence based on the risks they pose. Continuous, real-time monitoring looks for changes in the third party’s risk profile, which automatically triggers alerts and workflows to log issues and generate corrective actions.

Elevating pharmacovigilance

In pharma, one mistake, one bad actor or one contaminated shipment can compromise decades of research, billions of dollars, and prevent treatments from reaching the market. 

TPRM solutions can help companies achieve and practice pharmacovigilance, a centuries-old discipline and an indispensable process that enables the delivery of safe and effective treatments. Practicing pharmacovigilance helps companies to take risk mitigation beyond their supplier base and third-party ecosystem and apply it to their entire value chain — from trial participants to patients.

TPRM solutions can help elevate pharmacovigilance programs. Supply chain, procurement and compliance teams can use TPRM solutions to create optimal business outcomes in the form of greater safety and efficacy of drugs and vaccines, higher confidence that critical third parties are compliant, and resiliency in the extended supply chain.

Start small, grow fast

Leaders should start by developing a program charter of their TPRM by defining its purpose, business objectives and scope. Conducting a maturity assessment across critical TPRM disciplines can help develop recommendations to achieve higher maturity levels. A roadmap can provide a clear starting point and outline of the implementation phases. Finally, leaders should identify success metrics and progressive business value impact they can expect from their TPRM program.

Leaders need to approach their roadmap by taking small steps, because there’s less risk in starting small. They should look to gain maximum time to value while reducing the number of strategic decisions they must make in this phase.

Once teams have begun to operationalize TPRM programs, they can add more risk domains to monitor and mitigate, as well as new capabilities to mature the program. This can include integrating risk intelligence providers to enrich risk insights and visibility, and compliance reporting with robust audit trails. Lastly, leaders need to work continuously to mature their organization’s TPRM charter as the risk environment continues to evolve and business objectives change.

There’s a lot riding on the success of a TPRM program. But the process of designing and deploying one does not have to be daunting. 

About the Author

Dean Alms | Chief Product Officer, Aravo