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Sanofi-aventis announces distribution change

Sanofi-aventis (S-A) is the latest drug manufacturer to alter its distribution system, after announcing it will be reducing the number of wholesalers its uses in the UK from 17 to three.

Sanofi-aventis (S-A) is the latest drug manufacturer to alter its distribution system, after announcing it will be reducing the number of wholesalers its uses in the UK from 17 to three.

AAH Pharmaceuticals, Phoenix and Unichem will be the only wholesalers distributing S-A's drugs from November 1, 2007.

"We will have greater visibility of the availability of our medicines in the supply chain, earlier awareness of potential stock shortages, simplicity of any need for recall, and an enhanced integrity in maintaining the quality and authenticity of medicines in the chain," explained Jennifer Wilson, head of brand communications at S-A.

However, S-A was at pains to point out that it is not changing its system, merely reducing the number of wholesalers its uses. "Our distribution model is the same - we will continue to sell to wholesalers exactly as we do at present; the wholesalers will continue to control discounts and frequency of deliveries," said Wilson.

The three wholesalers will offer 100 per cent national coverage in the UK.

AAH, Phoenix and UniChem already distribute nearly 90 per cent of all medicines in the UK and pharmacists should already have existing arrangements with one or more of these wholesalers, ensuring continuity of supply, according to S-A.

S-A could not comment on what other options it considered, but confirmed a review of its processes did take place before reducing the number of wholesalers.

"Obviously, a review did take place, and we decided the new arrangement was the best option for improved business efficiency and integrity," concluded Wilson.

Mike Isles, supply chain director of S-A UK, said: "Pharmacists, hospitals, and dispensing doctors are important customers for sanofi-aventis and are the vital link in ensuring that we can get our medicines to patients who need them. Under this new arrangement we can maintain the service levels that our customers experience today while improving supply chain efficiency in the delivery of our medicines to patients."

30th July 2007

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