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Pharmaceutical firms treat inefficiencies with KM

The elimination of the paper invoices is still in process. In mid-April, the company began using the system for intellectual property invoicing, which represents more than 80 percent of the legal bills (although only 30 percent of the dollar amount). Wyeth plans to continue expanding its electronic billing footprint with the goal of processing all legal billing electronically using the solution.

Tracking drug delivery

About four years ago, Florida passed legislation requiring pharmaceutical companies to have an electronic "pedigree"—the ability to trace drugs from manufacture to final sale, a mandate that was quickly copied by several other states. Although firms have until 2015 to comply in most cases, there’s a chance that the deadline for those mandates could be moved up by new state or federal laws, according to Jim Stroud, president and CEO of Golden State Medical Supply (GSMS), a contract manufacturer and third-party logistics coordinator based in Camarillo, Calif.

"Global counterfeit drug sales will grow at almost twice the rate of legitimate pharmaceutical commerce by 2010," Stroud says, citing estimates from the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Small business-friendly

"We wanted something that would enable us to meet the mandates, but we didn’t want to just jump on the first solution that came along," Stroud adds. "We evaluated different solutions for close to two years. When we first looked at IBM, we were concerned that they would be only large business friendly. They quickly made me realize that they were small business friendly, too. Any time we had a question, they were able to get us answers."

It was important for the firm to find a solution that catered to small businesses because they don’t have the financial resources of the largest pharmaceutical companies, Stroud adds.

Golden State prepares pharmaceuticals in consumer-ready packages (e.g., single dose, bottles with 30-day supplies). Using IBM’s InfoSphere Traceability Server and RFID tags, Golden State can identify every package from manufacture to sale.

Having used IBM’s system in its own operations, Golden State is now offering pedigree compliance services to pharmaceutical manufacturers seeking a quick and proven way of addressing the electronic pedigree mandates. Many smaller firms don’t have the capabilities of doing that themselves, so by being able to offer the service to them, Golden State will have a new income stream, Stroud explains.

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