The World Health Organization estimates that almost a third of the world’s
population still lacks access to essential medicines. The distribution network for
medicines is ineffective and inefficient in many developing countries. Discussions often
centre on why the medicines supply chain cannot replicate the supply chain for consumer products and beverages. There is little understanding of the similarities and differences between the two supply chains. This article compares these two
supply chains in developing countries from a structural and incentive perspective. It illustrates the complexity of medicine supply chains, and highlights the
important differences between these and consumer beverage (soft drink) supply chains.