Upscaling of Production – the Perspective of Pharmaceutical Companies
Lets share your thoughts on pharmaceuticals companies during COVID-19 and way forward to meet the increasing need of the people.
The Pharmaceutical Industries during COVID-19 – An Update in the Existing Supply Chain Management
The second wave of COVID-19 had an alarming death rate and in terms of essential supplies. Spiralling cases, a shortage of medical supplies like oxygen, medicines for COVID-19 and also hospital beds. The younger population had higher morbidity during this period, with the continuous mutation seen in the virus. The fungal infections were occurring, adding to the plight of the healthcare workers and the population.  These situations needed an increase in the medicines (like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab) to be produced on a larger scale, thus, pointing out the need to update the existing supply chain.
Some of the key points for the update are as follows –
- Supply shocks – The containment strategies have affected the inputs for the companies. In the form of human resources or raw materials, the stock has suffered. Consequently, the production had diminished.
- Demand shocks – During the pandemic, the phenomenon of stockpiling or panic-buying had been skyrocketing. Thereby, higher demand for medicines had occurred. Moreover, sporadic incidents of stocking oxygen cylinders had been occurring, leading to mismanagement and fire accidents.
- Transportation costs – Transportation of goods play a very crucial factor for the business to continue. Border closure and travel bans have severely affected pharmaceutical companies. The costs of transporting have also increased, leading to a surge in the existing pricing to overcome the difference in margin.
The production has been upscaled and to meet the increasing needs of the population. The perspectives of the pharmaceutical companies would be crucial in formulating further policies or strategies for medical interventions.
- Asrani P, Eapen MS, Hassan MI, Sohal SS. Implications of the second wave of COVID-19 in India. The Lancet. Respiratory Medicine. 2021 Jun 30.
- Zhu G, Chou MC, Tsai CW. Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the shortcomings of current supply chain operations: A long-term prescriptive offering. Sustainability. 2020 Jan;12(14):5858.
- Kaliya-Perumal AK, Kharlukhi J, Omar UF. The second wave of COVID-19: time to think of strategic stockpiles. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2020 Aug;111(4):486-7.
- Jha R, Sharma A. India’s pharmaceutical industry: Global supply chain and governance in the post-COVID-19 world. Available at SSRN 3622794. 2020 Jun 9.
According to data from a pharmaceutical market research, Indian Pharma Market grew 59% yoy in April, 2021 vs 16% yoy in March, 2021 due to sharp surge of COVID-19 cases during the second wave and the increased demand of medical supplies including medicines and devices in almost every corner of the country.9
India's pharmaceutical sector is the third-largest in terms of production around world, and the country's economy produces 60% of all vaccines worldwide.2 Yet, India imports about 70%–75% of APIs and key starting raw materials(KSM) from China.4 Due to the supply chain disruptions, the cost surged by 40%–50% in India for medicines such as paracetamol, penicillin and anti-asthma drugs. The domestic generic drug producers, who sourced APIs from China, faced supply shortage, leading to scarcities in un-estimated amounts, especially when the country’s health infrastructure altogether sunk to lows while going through the second wave of COVID-19. The slowdown in imports also affected the potential innovative drug developers.5
Another major disruption that most companies faced was unavailability of workforce at almost all levels as pharmaceutical units were operating at less than 40%–50% of their capacities.6 and operations were curtailed to only one shift at various plants. Prices of raw materials shot up amid limited supply, production schedules were interrupted, smaller operational factories were shut down and shipping costs were sky-high.8
The chaos directing to lot of unfiltered sources of information drove commoners towards self-medication and administration of doses of drugs as per suitability. As a result of this, requirement for remdesivir injections increased so sharply, that companies had to produce about three lakh vials a day — which used to be their monthly production late last year, bringing a huge burden on them at an already difficult time to even function at the old-average production rates.1
Nevertheless, government also aided the pharmaceutical sector as it had imposed export and distribution restrictions on testing kits and set prices for medical instruments, surgical masks, sanitisers.3 It also restricted export and further later regulated the use of Hydroxychloroquine since the medication was earlier determined to be essential in the management of a COVID-19 cases but was denied as rightful for the purpose from successive studies. Furthermore, government took active steps by releasing schemes to take forward the AtmaNirbhar Bharat agenda for pharmaceutical sector to be a dependable supplier of high quality affordable medicine around the globe and to rely lesser on other countries for raw materials and APIs.10
Still on the path to meeting demands and balancing the structural shape of the industry, government can boost Indian pharma R&D by implementing streamlined and accelerated regulatory and testing pathways for all drugs (including those for COVID-19). The increase in overall innovation/R&D can provide a long-term thrust to Indian pharmaceuticals7
- CNBC TV18 (Pharmaceutical units are currently operating at 40-50% of manufacturing capacity because of unavailability of workforce)
- India can become the pharmacy of the world -The Hindu ...." 6 2020, //www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/india-can-become-the-pharmacy-of-the-world/article31516558.ece.(2020)
Pharmaceutical companies plays an effective role during this pandemic. Government as well as people trusted the companies thus asking it for help to end COVID-19. The more days pass, the more deaths occur and the more is economy affected, the work from the pharmaceutical industry is intensified to improve the development of treatments, accelerate vaccine research, create better and faster diagnoses, and finally, ensure that medical supplies are being produced. A response to this latent pressure was the signing of a global collaboration pact to accelerate research around Coronavirus and allow patients from around the world to access treatments. The parties state they will share innovative tools, make extra efforts to involve everyone in creating solutions with transparency, they commit to coordinated action, and ensure global access for findings, especially for the people mostly affected by the virus.
As health professionals were figuring out how to treat the virus, pharmaceutical providers set out to investigate what existing drugs might help treat patients with COVID-19, potential new medicines to help mitigate the symptoms and long term effects and the production of a vaccine. Alongside this, they also needed to ensure that regular production of other medicines was able to continue to ensure treatments for other conditions were not impacted.
The steps needed to be taken to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 . Since then, there have been numerous different projects looking at developing a coronavirus vaccine, counting around 130 by the end of June. One particular study at the University of Oxford has recently had positive results in producing a strong immune response. This study is being conducted in partnership with the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in order to manufacture and distribute the vaccine when it’s ready. Due to the unprecedented nature of the virus, studies such as these have accelerated faster than usual, with priority government funding and support in order to develop a vaccine and ensure public safety as soon as possible.
The RECOVERY (Randomized) trial was set up in March 2020 to test a range of existing treatments to find ways to treat patients with COVID-19.
In mid-June, the trial had a breakthrough with the drug dexamethasone, which is a low-cost, widely available steroid treatment used to treat asthma and other inflammatory conditions. The trial found that dexamethasone helped reduce deaths by one third in hospitalized patients with respiratory complications.
Pharmaceutical company Gilead have also produced a drug called Remdesivir which can help patients recover quicker from COVID-19. It was found to have positive results on two older forms of coronavirus, MERS and SARS, which have a similar structure to COVID-19. However, the treatment looks to be in short supply outside the US, after a deal was struck to purchase all available stock of the patented drug for the US.
Digital solutions provide the necessary backbone to streamlining these processes. Our software provides quality management and document collaboration solutions for pharmaceutical companies, allowing them to maintain operations and work remotely with colleagues during this unprecedented time.
Thus, COVID-19 has presented pharmaceutical companies with the opportunity to demonstrate the value of their investments in vaccines and treatments, and to communicate their positive contribution to society and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
@chandrima-chatterjee very well articulated information and I completely agree with you, especially while witnessing throughout the country during second wave of COVID-19 - the kind of stockpilling, bulk acquiring of medicines and even oxygen cylinders by means which had no measures and boundaries left. Resulting from the grave situtation, demand requiring to be met at unpractical timings and deliveries to be made in unimaginable quantities added on the pressure and production difficulties upon the entire pharmaceutical industry.
During the 2nd wave, there is a need to increase the vaccine production for better outreach in the community as well as in the underserved/ unreacheable communities living in different parts of country. These manufacturing companies are facing challenges while importing the raw materials from US or other countries due to increased demand and imposed high taxes. Indian govt is taking care of addressing such challenges by enhancing the vaccine scale-up manufacturing by scaling up vaccine production, financial support for private and public sector manufacturing facilities, to make them ready for enhanced capacities to support augmented vaccine production over the next 6-8 months.
Thus vaccine manufacturers should also focus on the indigenous raw materials to cut down the TAT to deliver in the market.
The COVID-19 pandemic causes a major problem on health markets, especially pharmaceutical industries, and can lead policymakers to more proof-informed planning to address these issues.COVID-19 is a hundred years of potential for the pharmaceutical sector, increasing demand for prescription drugs, vaccinations and medical equipment which might be particularly relevant in developing nations with greater fears about health care resources and pharma-related markets, is crucial for political leadership in more evidence-informed planning for the overcoming of associated difficulties. There is also a possibility for medium- and long-term negative consequences on R&D and production activities and delays on non-core supply chain/data management projects/plans. Although the worldwide pandemic's entire impact is still unclear, pharmaceutical firms must react and recover and prosper.
Covid-19 has demanded the increased production from the pharmaceutical industry all over the world .There is the increase demand for production of PPE kit (i.e. Surgical masks, gloves),ventilators, respiratory inhalers, drugs related to covid-19 treatment, covid-19 test tool kit for diagnosing the disease(during the second wave of covid-19,demand has doubled than before).Biggest element in upscaling the production of pharmaceutical company in the view of covid-19 is increasing the vaccine production. Worldwide different pharmaceutical industries were in the process of scaling up their production of vaccines. Though there is increase speed in the production of vaccine, supply of doses remain far below what is needed. There is also a concern regarding vaccine production i.e. Trade related restrictions on vaccine manufacturing materials (from different suppliers all over the world) could make it impossible to meet the demands .The complexity of raw material and component value chains and limited production capacity in many countries, export controls, border clearance and transit issues affecting the sourcing of imported raw materials and other essential components posed difficulties for scaling up vaccine manufacturing operations and ensuring equitable access.
Efforts to waive WTO rules on intellectual property, first put forward by government representatives of South Africa and India last year. Under the proposals, companies around the world would be free to manufacture their own version of existing Covid-19 vaccines, reducing reliance on the output of a small number of major producers. Negotiations have moved forward on a potential rules waiver, helped by US President Joe Biden declaring his support in a June speech, but significant barriers remain. One concern is that complex supply chains could be disrupted by sudden changes in demand, requiring a multilateral and coordinated approach to upscaling production across the world.
COVID19 taught about the importance of managing resources effectively and efficiently. It also highlighted the need for proper allocation of resources. Pharmaceutical companies were required to upscale their production capacities and meet the demands of the population.
The world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies proclaimed their commitment and designed to accelerate the development and production of safe, effective and affordable therapeutics and vaccines available for all in a way that ensures nobody is left behind in the fight against COVID-19.Improving processes and assets by taking advantage of manufacturing and control technology can help. An industial software platform that can help companies track data, control processes and automate various functions, can be beneficial in this area.
There are significant global efforts underway to diagnose, treat and prevent infections from the covid 19 virus. And the Pharmaceutical companies are working globally to combat this.
Pharmaceutical companies have deep scientific knowledge gained from decades of experience with similar viruses like covid19. They are researching vaccine candidates, undertaking inventories of research portfolio libraries to identify additional potential treatments for R&D.
Some have donated compounds with the potential to treat coronavirus for emergency use and clinical trials, including compounds formerly tested on other viral pathogens such as Ebola and HIV. Other are exploring ways to use existing technologies that provide the ability to rapidly upscale production once a potential vaccine candidate is identified.
1. Treatment and development:-
At the middle of March, there are more than 320 medicines in various stages of development.
2. Vaccine development and manufacturing:-
Companies have worked tirelessly to develop and scale up manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines to help people around the world and continue to do so.
Rolling out diagnostics to detect whether patients are genuinely infected with the new coronavirus is a key step in preventing or slowing its spread. However, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has drastically increased the demand for testing kits around the world, governments are trying to ramp up their testing capacities. Pharmaceutical companies are helping in this fight.
4. Helping the NHS (National health service):-
As part of the health community, the life sciences sector in the UK, wants to play a big a role as possible in tackling COVD-19 both in the search for effective diagnostics and treatments and by supporting patients, the NHS and Government across the UK.
Pharmaceutical companies during COVID-19:
• Pharmaceutical companies have worked tirelessly to develop & increase the manufacture of
• It helps the people lot all around the world 🌎.
• These companies effort saved most of the people life all around the world.
• Transportation costs are high, but Indian government is helping to get vaccines from the companies.
*Pharmaceutical companies are working constantly to make COVID-19 vaccines available for all the people in the country.
*Government helps them in the financial problems they face.
*People in medical are more depending on these companies so they are given a much big responsibility to satisfy these people.
*They saved many people’s lives.
@shambhavi very correctly put. The role of the government and rising demand and the unmet supply is very well-addressed. The lack of raw materials and human resources had been a problem, putting a burden on the pharmaceutical industry.
WHAT ARE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES DOING TO TACKLE COVID-19?
- Aside from responding to the immediate threat of the virus, organisations have had to adapt quickly to ensure that they can be resilient to disruption and work in more agile ways - both in a post-COVID environment and in preparation for a possible next wave of the virus.
- Preparing for multiple possible scenarios is key to ensuring continuity and the management of risk no matter the situation.
- Business continuity is essential for the pharmaceutical industry in order to keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritise COVID-19 treatments.
- Thorough risk assessments and reviewing previous procedures are key to building resilience and enabling critical work to continue during the pandemic.
- Digital solutions provide the necessary backbone to streamlining these processes - either by giving easy access to people for the delivery of their medicines or the booking of online appointments based on the available symptoms.
- This has led to apps like Practo seeing a huge surge in their app usage. Practo’s online consultation is witnessing an average increase of 16% week-on-week, which was growing at 20% per month.
FUTURE OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES
- Before the pandemic, digital transformation was a long-term goal within the pharmaceutical industry. Now, it is a necessity that requires having open and more meaningful interactions with authorities, patients and physicians.
- Another future challenge to this new digitalization era is to ensure that what has been advanced will remain once the COVID-19 limitations are lifted.
- The current mobilization of resources, with companies collaborating and public entities sharing financial risks, must and will be a template for dealing with future pandemic threats.
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES DURING COVID-19
The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was characterized as a global pandemic by the WHO on March 11th, 2020. This pandemic had major effects on the health market, the pharmaceutical sector, and was associated with considerable impacts; which may appear in short and long-term time-horizon and need identification and appropriate planning to reduce their socio-economic burden.
Short-term impacts of COVID-19 pandemic includes demand changes, regulation revisions, research and development process changes and the shift towards tele-communication and tele-medicine. In addition, industry growth slow-down, approval delays, moving towards self-sufficiency in pharm-production supply chain and trend changes in consumption of health-market products along with ethical dilemma could be anticipated as long-term impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on pharmaceutical sector in both global and local levels.
The pandemic of COVID-19 poses considerable crisis on the health markets, including the pharmaceutical sector; and identification of these effects, may guide policy-makers towards more evidence-informed planning to overcome accompanying challenges.