In many parts of the world, medicines are not always available where and when they are urgently needed. We want patients in low- and middle-income countries to have fast, safe and affordable access to our products. Efficient supply chain management and local manufacturing are crucial in order to achieve this goal.
Our approach to local supply chain solutions
During product development and manufacturing, we favor approaches that enable us to control the cost of goods and allow local manufacturing and supply chains that help to strengthen the local economy. We apply this model in our work with the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, for instance.
We partner with pharmaceutical companies and other supply chain stakeholders to strengthen supply chains in low- and middle-income countries and guarantee the targeted supply of medicines. We manufacture some of our products directly in the regions where they are needed in order to build local capacity, increase service quality and flexibility through reduced travel times and distances and to achieve cost savings that can be passed on to the consumer.
Our pharmaceutical supply chains are organized to ensure that our products reach the right place in the right condition and quantity, at an affordable price and on time. Modern supply chain solutions that include real-time monitoring enable us to track our inventories and current deliveries as well as predict expected demand for medicines.
How we organize our supply chains
Our Global Planning unit is responsible for our medicine supply chains and is part of Biopharma Supply Network Operations within our Healthcare business sector. Global Planning collaborates with supply chain representatives from the markets for efficient demand management. It also consults experts from other business sectors as needed.
Our commitment: High quality standards for pharmaceutical production
All our pharmaceutical production plants operate to the same high standard of quality worldwide. This ensures full compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Distribution Practice (GDP) for us and our contract manufacturers.
Our Right First Time (RFT) concept aims to reduce the number of temperature excursions that occur during transportation worldwide. In addition to our RFT concept, we also encourage shipping sites and receiving units to work with freight forwarders and carriers to improve their processes.
Our uniform quality assurance system helps to ensure that our quality standards are universally respected. It comprises training courses, quality control monitoring and technologies tailored to each site. The results of all audits conducted by health authorities are published Group-wide, allowing the respective units to share lessons learned and benefit from the improvements made by others.
Through our virtual plant teams, we support our contract manufacturers in complying with quality standards. We assign a production expert to our external partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as a virtual site leader and to provide guidance.
Ensuring supply during the Covid-19 pandemic
We ensured that all our manufacturing sites could continue operations during the Covid-19 pandemic. No business interruptions occurred at our facilities. They were able to carry on with medicine production thanks to sufficient stocks of active pharmaceutical ingredients. We were in constant dialogue with our distribution partners to make sure that we could deliver our goods despite severe transportation constraints.
Working with partners to achieve more
We store supplier information within a centralized platform, enabling us to exchange information Group-wide and use it for our collaborations and partnerships. This further supports our efforts to organize shared supply chains more efficiently.
Shared data platform for medicine donations
NTDeliver is a digital information tool for improving transparency in medicine donation supply chains created through public-private partnerships. Deliveries sent by companies that are running donation programs are clearly displayed – from purchase orders made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to delivery to the first warehouse in the destination country. The tool improves the coordination of our efforts and provides WHO, local experts and our company with a more transparent overview of the in-country inventories. The tool also features an alarm that informs key stakeholders about upcoming expiry dates of medicines that may still be in their inventory. We deploy the NTDeliver tool to monitor the volumes of schistosomiasis medicines.
Access delivery mentorship
Our partners and stakeholders require support when addressing the critical “last mile” challenge: ensuring that medicines are delivered to the patient. We help build the supply chain capacity of our partners through our access delivery mentorship initiative. It comprises a volunteer pool of supply chain experts who share their knowledge and experience. We also collaborate with Business for Health Solutions (BHS) to work with local distributors in Tanzania in order to address their supply and logistics challenges.
Two examples of this successful program can be seen in Tanzania: Bahari, a Tanzanian distributor, recorded a 96% order fulfillment rate (compared with an average of 82% before the project), a 75% faster purchasing time and a 50% faster delivery time. Mansoor Daya, a local Tanzanian manufacturer of essential medicines, recorded a 90% reduction in customs processing time, a 100% quality improvement of raw materials, and a 40% improvement in supplier quality and ceased business with predominantly high-risk suppliers due to increased documentation requirements.
Coalition for better medicine access
We are a member of CAMP-N, a coalition of government agencies, private-sector entities, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, and academic institutions. Together, we are dedicated to increasing access to medicines and health products for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and reducing the impact of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
In 2020, we joined a technical working group to help develop a demand forecasting tool for medicines and health products used to treat non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. We are the only private sector company representative in the cross-sectoral working group. As a next step, we will share the prototype NCD demand forecasting model with country stakeholders for feedback, and test it in Kenya and Uganda, followed by Tanzania.
Promoting local production
In India and Indonesia, we manufacture drugs for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and thyroid disorders. These capacity-building efforts support local economies and allow us to supply medicines more rapidly and affordably to these and neighboring countries, such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka. We also serve local markets in China and Russia through local production, for example via contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs).
In 2018, our company established the CURAFA™ initiative to develop a sustainable business model for primary healthcare services. In August 2020, the social enterprise Access Afya took over CURAFA™ and its associated facilities, thus supporting its goal to provide quality-assured, low-cost microclinics in underdeveloped areas.