This paper examines the opportunities and challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry in moving to a primarily \"continuous processing\"-based supply chain. The current predominantly \"large batch\" and centralized manufacturing system designed for the \"blockbuster\" drug has driven a slow-paced, inventory heavy operating model that is increasingly regarded as inflexible and unsustainable. Indeed, new markets and the rapidly evolving technology landscape will drive more product variety, shorter product life-cycles, and smaller drug volumes, which will exacerbate an already unsustainable economic model. Future supply chains will be required to enhance affordability and availability for patients and healthcare providers alike despite the increased product complexity. In this more challenging supply scenario, we examine the potential for a more pull driven, near real-time demand-based supply chain, utilizing continuous processing where appropriate as a key element of a more \"flow-through\" operating model. In this discussion paper on future supply chain models underpinned by developments in the continuous manufacture of pharmaceuticals, we have set out; The significant opportunities to moving to a supply chain flow-through operating model, with substantial opportunities in inventory reduction, lead-time to patient, and radically different product assurance/stability regimes. Scenarios for decentralized production models producing a greater variety of products with enhanced volume flexibility. Production, supply, and value chain footprints that are radically different from today's monolithic and centralized batch manufacturing operations. Clinical trial and drug product development cost savings that support more rapid scale-up and market entry models with early involvement of SC designers within New Product Development. The major supply chain and industrial transformational challenges that need to be addressed. The paper recognizes that although current batch operational performance in pharma is far from optimal and not necessarily an appropriate end-state benchmark for batch technology, the adoption of continuous supply chain operating models underpinned by continuous production processing, as full or hybrid solutions in selected product supply chains, can support industry transformations to deliver right-first-time quality at substantially lower inventory profiles. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the American Pharmacists Association J Pharm Sci 104:840-849, 2015.
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