Viliam Kovac: Mitigating Risk in the Global Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Pharma IQ

Pharma IQ: Viliam, what would you say are the three main challenges with regards to improving distribution operations across the Middle East?

V Kovac:I would say that a creation of a region related temperature profiles to implement adequate cold chain management controls, as a first one; then, having a specific and mutually agreed quality contracts of what need to be done as a second; and, finally, the last piece is the training, so people’s qualifications; I would say these are the  three main challenges in the Middle East.

Pharma IQ: What measures are you and your team taking to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities across the global pharmaceutical supply chain?

V Kovac: If you are talking about measures, I would say that we focus to qualify our supply chain(s); that means to implement controls, for our processes such warehousing, storage and transportation as well as at our providers and in our facilities.

Pharma IQ:And how difficult is it to implement effective risk management into the global supply chain?

V Kovac: Actually, once the people understand what the risk really is, then it’s quite easy. So the people should understand the risk is certain, that is happening every day. It’s just a level, what we or what the company is willing to accept.  Once this understanding is available then assessment needs to be done between the current processes and let’s say the ideal risk-free process. The result would be a delta, let call it the risk. Mgt. shall decide if this is acceptable or not.

Pharma IQ: And what would be your top tips for mitigating risk in the pharmaceutical supply chain?

V Kovac: Once the risk been identified, it’s very important to prioritise it to define the right mitigation strategy where as a part of it would be an adequate process control in place to reduce the risk level.  I don’t think there is too much to do to get the risk to zero, but you have to implement adequate method to reduce the risk to the minimum.

Pharma IQ:And how are regulatory authorities and the pharmaceutical industry working together in the Middle East to develop legislation and regulatory practices that enable patients to have access to good-quality medicines, including innovative medicines?

V Kovac:There is starting very good cooperation between regulatory agencies, and between the regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies. This way helps both, agencies and pharmaceutical companies to better understand each other and implement a process which is feasible and which help to protect the patient safety.

Pharma IQ:Viliam, you mentioned training earlier, how highly do you rank training as one of the measures to mitigating risk in the pharmaceutical supply chain?

V Kovac:Training is very important.  In order to mitigate the risk you should know the process to better understand the anticipated result.

Pharma IQ: I understand you are going to be speaking at the Pharmaceutical Logistics Middle East Conference.  For anyone interested in attending, what are you most looking forward to, and what will be your key take-home message?

V Kovac:It is always an excellent opportunity to exchange local or regional expertise with colleagues out of the region to better understand the local needs. So not just implement what is valid globally, but to implement it by the better way, locally adapted.  

Pharma IQ:Where do you see the pharmaceutical logistics industry in the next five to ten years?  What major changes, if any, do you think we will see on the landscape?

V Kovac:I think that the future of the pharma industry is, personalised medicine, where Roche is very strong on this field of expertise.  These highly complex pharmaceutical products will be very sensitive in terms of storage, transportation, and will be also very valuable. So, in order to transport, store and manage all these products, we need very well developed controls over the global supply chain.  Specifically topics such temperature control management, anti-counterfeiting, identification, track& trace including product serialisation will become very important. Basically, more process control within the supply chain to get the right product, to the right patient on the right time, with the right quality.

Interview conducted by Andrea Charles.


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