Innovative treatments like cell and gene therapies are testing the limits of an already complex pharmaceutical supply chain, in turn putting pressure on drugmakers to find solutions.
Technology has been key in that regard. GlaxoSmithKline plc recently tapped Viant Technologies Inc., an Ethereum-based blockchain platform, to help implement blockchain into its supply chain systems. Advancements in big data and computing are also opening doors, according to J&J’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Kathryn Wengel.
“We’re not just making products anymore. We also make a product’s digital twin,” Wengel wrote in a opinion piece published last summer on Supply Chain Dive. “This twin is the basis for how we collaborate across the healthcare supply chain to create a digital thread that will allow our healthcare systems to shift over time from a pay by use to pay for outcomes.”
J&J’s planned revamp comes on the heels of new supply chain investments. Late last year, the big pharma’s subsidiary Janssen Sciences Ireland agreed to spend €300 million ($355 million) to expand its 400,000-square-meter facility in Ringaskiddy, County Cork, with the goal of revving up biologics manufacturing. And in December, J&J waded into the world of CAR-T manufacturing through a $350 million licensing deal with Legend Biotech for one of the Chinese drugmaker’s investigational treatments.
Future products like Legend’s clinical candidate were a primary driver of J&J’s supply chain investment. The big pharma touts a fairly extensive late-stage, spanning across some of the hottest therapeutic areas in drug development, such as oncology and neuroscience.
The U.S. is also a focus. On the earnings call, Caruso noted his company was committed to bringing the supply chain investments stateside, especially with regards to additional R&D.