Specialty Pharma Manufacturer Enhances Its Direct-Distribution Capabilities With New Software

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - September 2009

TAKE Supply Chain helps Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals organize its distribution and shipping operations

Privately owned Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals (TRP) is coming up on the one-year anniversary of moving into new headquarters, in Warrendale, PA, that tripled the company’s office and warehouse space. The fast-growing company (now in its ninth year) was boosted in the past year by acquiring the rights to the Infergen treatment for hepatitis C, from Valeant Corp.


That acquisition tucked neatly into the specialty pharmaceuticals that TRP markets, including branded and generic antifungal and hepatitis treatments that are distributed to 45 countries worldwide. TRP distributes its specialty products directly to dispensing pharmacies and clinics. The direct channel, according to the company, gives it more control over its inventory — versus ceding inventory control to wholesale distributors — while helping reduce returns and keeping costs low. But it also increases the company’s administrative workload. Direct distribution requires increased real-time visibility of receiving, inventory and manufacturing activity. To achieve the required visibility, TRP soon discovered it needed to augment its existing Oracle environment with more advanced capabilities.

This need led the company to TAKE Supply Chain (known until this year as ClearOrbit), a provider of real-time supply chain execution and reverse logistics solutions. TAKE specializes in Oracle applications (although it provides services to other enterprise systems). Along with its supply chain technology, called Gemini Simplified Interface (G.SI) for Oracle Process Manufacturing, it has developed a label-management solution called Compliance Label Manager, tailored to the needs of life sciences companies. This tool, too, proved helpful to TRP as it planned its growth.

With Gemini’s mobile radio-frequency (RF) scanners, Three Rivers improved visibility to inbound materials and products throughout the company’s distribution facility. The system automates the recording of key receiving transactions as well as inventory movements, transfers and adjustments, instantly eliminating data delays and errors from manual processes. Three Rivers also uses Gemini’s Compliance Label Manager, a barcode and RFID label management solution, to automate all labeling processes and produce barcode labels and RFID tags without the need to invest in custom code, consulting or new infrastructure.

In current practice, G.SI provides visibility and records of both inbound and outbound materials, and automates the recording of transactions, transfers and adjustments. The reduction of manual inputs, combined with streamlined implementation and training, has resulted in a 50% reduction in distribution efficiency. In the warehouse area, handheld scanners driven by Gemini software capture key transactions.


According to Christine Sheehy, Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals senior vice president of operations, “With TAKE Supply Chain, we’ve been able to make warehouse pick and pack significantly more proficient and to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies within our processes.”

When it comes to completing label requirements for the secondary labeling (shipping information) for the diverse clientele of TRP, Take Supply Chain’s Compliance Label Manager can manage barcode labels or RFID tags as standard. CLM enabled TRP to produce mobile barcode labels that enhance control of inventory and shipment movement within the company’s facilities and throughout its partner network. Rather than manually completing shipping documents and keying information into the appropriate Oracle forms, TRP’s employees could automatically produce the labels that conform to regulatory and customer-specific format requirements and perform the required transactions on handheld devices, according to the company.

A fundamental premise of how TAKE Supply Chain’s technology is organized is to make use of “a single version of the truth” by not creating specialized databases alongside different distribution steps. All transactions and records are delivered, via GS.1, to the Oracle data model. According to TAKE, this approach fully leverages TRP’s the setups, tolerances and profiles already defined in TRP’s Oracle deployment, and minimizes implementation and support costs. The Oracle database TRP uses is set up to accommodate variations in labels, and to provide pedigree or track-and-trace data if called for.

“Automating the processes by which manufacturers and distributors gain data visibility is critical in managing today’s complex global supply chains, but also for reaching the efficiencies companies need to operate profitably and competitively,” said Warren Sumner, TAKE Supply Chain general manager. “TAKE’s success in helping Three Rivers reach their goal of streamlined distribution operations with rapid ROI represents the kind of results we strive to continue to deliver to the global manufacturing and distribution marketplace.” PC

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