Some highlights form the LogiPharma symposium in Montreux from 19th to 21st April 2016 by Alan Kennedy
2016 LogiPharm pulls together at Europe’s biggest supply chain event for the life sciences sector
Nearly five hundred life-sciences professionals, supply chain executives and related logistics specialists descended on the Montreux Music & Convention Centre in Montreux, Switzerland for a jam-packed, luminary-studded, LogiPharma supply chain symposium on 19th – 21st April. With more than fifty speakers, a host of workshops and debates and a bustling exhibition arena, the 2016 LogiPharma experience continued its tradition as a vibrant, professional yet highly congenial, occasion. The event was themed around “Supply Chain Transformation” and a broad church of delegates pro-actively examined the many barriers, opportunities and solutions facing the pharma supply-chain in its bid to develop, optimise and reinvent its connections and processes. The event’s interactive approach to delegate engagement provoked a welcome number of stimulating debates and an air of commonpurpose was clearly in evidence as the pharma industry squares up to its collective responsibilities and contemplates the threats and possibilities stemming from a world of breakneck change.
The 2016 LogiPharma opening address came from Carlo Notaristefani, president and CEO, Global Operations at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Notaristefani set the tone for the ensuing three days by presenting an intriguing take on the factors that have shaped the pharma supply chain and those that are going to define its future. He explained that by 2020 there will be almost five hundred new drugs compared to today to test rare and orphan diseases. “Scientific innovation is still well alive,” he said. “We are seeing great advances happening in pharma at the moment but the chronic disease burden on the system is putting pressure on everyone.” “The problem is that many of the new products are aimed at rare diseases with the cost of development having to be absorbed by a very small number of patients.”
Notaristefani went on to explain that although the pace of growth in pharma will continue unabated “our industry, compared to others, is still extremely fragmented and there are needs and opportunities for more evolution in our business model.” “I believe we are on the edge of a revolution in the healthcare system and we don’t know, yet, how this is going to shake out. But every time there is a revolution some new leaders emerge.” Notaristefani talked about the “incredible transformation” that is going to take place as new suppliers encroach on the pharma market, as patient demographics change and as we increasingly entertain remote digital medical services. “Who wants to be competing with Google or Apple?” he inquired. “It is a new world. The traditional cost-competitive model is not enough any more. We must move beyond the product.” In addition to the need for more joined-up supply chains he suggested that the biggest changes will be associated with the customer and patient sides of the business. “This will create great opportunities for the supply chain,” he said. “Suppliers have always talked about getting a seat at the table and the way to do this is to demonstrate that you can create value. This is the best time ever to be a leader in the supply chain. There are many unfulfilled needs that require initiative but you must be prepared to participate in shaping the future.”
Collaboration was a fundamental issue on the lips and minds of many speakers and delegates at the conference as the industry explores new ways of improving teamwork and supply chain performance amongst the various pharma-delivery stakeholders. One of the speakers on this subject was Mark James, Vice President Europe at logistics specialist Movianto. Addressing an attentive audience, James stressed the need for a completely new buyer-supplier relationship, one that is driven by cultural fit, mutual understanding, team-work and aligned objectives rather than one that is managed on traditional ‘master-servant’ lines. “Business is moving away from a simple transactional approach towards one where processes are integrated end-to-end all the way through from point of manufacture to point of dispensing,” he explained. According to James, traditional cost-focused relationships are increasingly obsolete. The future for logistics suppliers, he asserted, will be increasingly about value-centred, patient-centric network relationships where 3PLs will be “playing a part in enabling better patient outcomes” rather than merely performing “the bit where something goes in a warehouse and gets distributed”. Other ‘hot potato’ topics covered during a super-charged three days of discourse included customer-centricity, segmentation, serialisation, network visibility, temperature control, portfolio management, digitalisation, regulatory compliance, emerging markets, corporate responsibility and women in the supply chain. A veritable cornucopia of knowledge, imagination, energy and inspiration.
Predictably, in a period of great change for the industry, much time was spent deliberating the future. One of the presenters to cover this topic was Sheena Behn, VP Commercial Operations at AstraZeneca who shared her informed opinions about the supply chain of the future and AstraZeneca’s ambitious ‘2020 Supply Chain Journey’.”We are looking at cutting edge roadmapping where we ask ‘what technology do we need now and what do we need in the future’,” she reported. Continuous manufacturing, brand segmentation and capacity planning were some of the areas she cited as being at heart of this process as the company seeks to improve its medium-term strategic modelling capability.
The event’s display area was, as always, the centre of much engagement between buyers, suppliers and partners, old and new. For Amsafe Bridport the event marked the European launch pad for a new, third generation, Tyvek® thermal cover while Emirates SkyCargo also unveiled their latest pharma protection solution based around Tyvek® technology. The latest serialisation, authentication and temperature monitoring solutions were much in evidence from companies such as Systech International, Berlinger, Movilitas and ELPRO while cold-chain containers and packaging solutions were on display from Envirotainer, va-Q-tec, AeroSafe, Emball’iso and others. The logistics fraternity was represented by players like Panalpina, Movianto and Yusen Logistics while integrators UPS and Fedex were both present.
Keeping the delegates’ feet on the ground was guest motivational speaker Major Chris Hunter QGM who, as the British Army’s one-time most experienced counterterrorist bomb disposal specialist, kept a spell-bound audience very much awake at the close of Day Two. His inspirational narrative on how good logistics plays a critical role in the deadly theatre of war was delivered with harrowing ‘as it happened’ video footage which graphically illustrated the consequences of getting things wrong or taking unnecessary risks. Even so, “Don’t be afraid of change or failure.” was one of Major Hunter’s parting shots to the audience.
When it comes to supply chain sophistication, the pharma sector, by its own admission, still has some way to go to be considered ‘World Class’. There is still a lot of slack between the various stakeholder groups and the industry is facing an unprecedented array of challenges that, taken together, are compelling wholesale and radical change. As always, the individual winners and losers in this scenario will be determined by Darwinian forces. But if the energy, insight and commitment on view at LogiPharma 2016 in Montreux is any guide there can be no doubt that this vital industry is readying itself for the momentous possibilities that lie ahead.