October 20, 2020
Opening Remarks and Housekeeping Taline Karasseferian, PMCQ director
Introduction of speaker Taline Karasseferian, PMCQ director
Today’s virtual meeting features presentations by our keynote speakers:
Vincenza Cianci Director, Planning & Logistics
Supply chain is critical and essential to business continuity as well as to ensure patients’ needs are consistently met. This was particularly emphasized during the pandemic we are currently going through. The supply chain complex environment needs to be reliable, agile, cost efficient and market focused with the ultimate objective to deliver a product on time, all the time, and with good quality.
The organization of processes and activities that make up the supply chain are all linked together by physical, money, and information data flow. The cycle of goods’ movement can take up to one year or more depending on the complexity of the molecule which impacts the manufacturing, packaging, testing, releasing and shipping conditions. This cycle is facilitated by using software and IT resources that allow real time monitoring.
The main objective during the pandemic was to ensure supply sustainability by building a collaborative and a successful work environment to support the company, the associates and the patients.
The major challenges observed during the pandemic were the following:
As soon as the early signs were observed in Europe, a global COVID-19 task force was established to build on the existing business continuity and risk management framework and identify, assess and mitigate risks while ensuring all associates remain safe. The contributing factor to the success of this task force was acting decisively by tracking real-time information and taking fast mitigating actions.
The surging demand and stock piling behaviors due to uncertainty and fear during the early stages of the pandemic created significant variability. It was important to understand how the new market dynamics will impact the demand and to capture the change in customers ordering patterns to allow the supply chain team to balance the demand.
In summary, the key learning is that when associates and patient’s safety are at stake, the resilience, adaptably, and clear focus of the supply chain community can overcome many obstacles. The pandemic taught us that we need to identify critical areas and invest our time and resources where the effect would be the greatest. Going forward, we need to continuously update the business continuity plan with clear guidelines and tools and focus on training to enable all stakeholders to be proactive and act decisively. Also, the use of new technology and artificial intelligence will become much more present as real time information is crucial to face the reality of business disruptions.
Todd Soltysiak Senior Director, 3PL Services
Mr. Soltysiak discussed the pandemic’s impact on the outbound activities in Canada from a supply chain perspective. He reviewed the action plan that was put in place to respond to COVID-19 and highlighted the critical measures that were taken.
It started to be clear in early January that the situation could potentially evolve into something bigger when many cruise ships were not being able to dock anymore. This triggered a series of actions in order to institute daily sanitization. The next step was to focus on educating all employees on the importance of social distancing and hand washing. This approach early on was really effective to help get ahead of the curve. Also, a local crisis management team (CMT) was put in place to oversee the entire response and problem solving in real time for the entire organization. Additionally, a rapid response team was built with a representative from each of the business units. This team was fully dedicated to highlight all the potential business risks and troubleshooting and was mandated to highlight what items needed to be brought to the CMT attention for real time decision making.
Also, a considerable amount of time was spent to review and rewrite the business continuity plan and pressure test it considering the perspective of all the organization business units. From March onwards, it was critical to keep the management teams informed about rapid changes in the protocols through daily communication. Transportation was another area with important challenges. We needed to move very quickly and work with the potential carrier partners to make sure that we are deemed as an essential service. However, remote work impacted online purchasing behaviors for many people, and this generated significant delays, primarily for the small packages.
Overall, considering the different challenges brought by the pandemic, all business operations were maintained without impacting patients’ appointments. There was minimal business interruption as the clinics continued operating effectively and all the KPIs were still on target. There was no delay in our product shipments or deliveries.
Although these measures helped ensure patients continuous care, there is still some work to be done in order to face the evolving COVID situation. The upcoming vaccines will also represent another important challenge in terms of supply chain and logistics. Many of these vaccines are developed at -20C, the current system in place is not yet established for that kind of storage and transportation.
We saw certain active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) temporarily banned from being exported and this led to candidates previously manufacturing APIs within Canada to be reevaluated. Could we realistically see an increase in API production especially where APIs are used by multiple market authorization holders in Canada or will we eventually go back to status quo post-pandemic?
From our perspective, we had limited API production from the countries where a temporary ban was in place. However, the pandemic did emphasize that Status quo is not an option anymore. We need to review our sourcing strategies specially for critical products, identify dual sources and ensure sustainable supply. This is really critical, and we should expect to see a change as this has been identified as a critical step that needs to be addressed.
Canada supply chain can be more direct to optimize the process especially for sensitive products. Are we looking into changing the basic model of supply chain?
We’ve seen with new molecules that have been introduced to market that we are identifying direct routes for specific products. This is being investigated and in place for some key products that are temperature sensitive. It’s a different view of the supply chain and it’s being addressed and operationalized. At the moment, it’s at a smaller scale but we are looking into opportunities to increase this process.
On the other hand, Health Canada does facilitate product entry for specific situations such as short supply molecules or in the case of special access programs to provide needed treatments. However, treatments are continuously evolving and ultra-cold temperature suppl chains will be more and more required. This is really going to change how the structure is currently set up to adapt.
Freelance Medical Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Green Shoots of Opportunity:
How to Find and Harvest Green Shoots in Pharma
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
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