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Avantor is playing a pivotal role in partnering with organizations working on COVID-19 therapies

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Devashish Ohri, Executive VP – India, Middle East & Africa (IMEA) elaborates on Avantor’s contributions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. He also gives insights on the emerging trends and opportunities in life sciences sector and expands on details about Avantor’s plans and capabilities to be a strategic partner to India’s pharma and healthcare segments, in an exclusive interaction with Express Pharma

Along with the challenges, the pandemic has also opened new opportunities for the life sciences sector. Can you elaborate on them? How is Avantor poised to leverage these opportunities?

The relevance and criticality of the life sciences sector has been highlighted now more than ever by the COVID pandemic. The exponential rise in COVID-19 cases has resulted in the need for solutions in prevention, screening and treatment. These include personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, screening tests like RT-PCR and critical materials required to make the vaccines.

Avantor is particularly well poised to be a key solutions provider for multiple reasons. First we have a comprehensive offering with more than 6 million products supporting science. These services and, solutions deeply embeds us as valued partners to our customers providing end to end solutions.

Our core focus has been healthcare and we provide mission-critical products and services used in the development of therapies and vaccines including COVID-19 and critical developments happening across the world. In the segment of screening, we are the manufacturer and supplier of millions of COVID screening kits supporting mass screening needs across the world.

We have a global footprint with R&D manufacturing and warehouses across the world, that enables us to serve nearly a quarter of million customer locations. In India, our 2000 employees provide products and technical support to 50,000 plus customers, especially, in healthcare. Our two cGMP manufacturing plants in the India region in Panoli (Gujarat) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand) have been in the forefront of providing vital test kits, reagents and excipients to public and private health initiatives including pharma manufacturing.

Since the onset of the pandemic, our offerings have ranged from relatively simple solutions like masks, gloves to sophisticated materials used in vaccines. We are extremely proud of the exceptional efforts put forth by our teams who are working around the clock. During the lockdown, our teams continued to work to obtain special permissions from the government to provide vital support and supplies to our customers.

It is worthwhile to mention that one of our biggest vaccine customers appreciated and highlighted our team as true ‘Corona warriors’ because of the on-time development and delivery of materials needed for their COVID- 19 vaccine candidate, despite lockdowns and slowing of global supply chains on account of the pandemic.

What are the emerging trends going to be in the coming years in the life sciences sector? What kind of new business model has emerged where life science and pharma sector can rely on?

We are continuously exploring innovation and upcoming trends. In coming years, the four trends that can be identified are:

  • Innovation and quality are keys to success: Customers, ranging from small to very large labs, are all showing a preference for quality products and services at competitive prices. In the coming years, the trend to develop more convenient, accessible and cost effective technologies with global quality standards will lead to more targeted innovation.

    To ensure that all our customers get the quality products and services, Avantor constantly strives to achieve the highest levels of safety, quality and service and we are committed to providing excellence to our customers.

  • Providing start to finish and one-stop solutions: This will be a competitive advantage for complete solution providers like Avantor who have a wide portfolio of products and solutions. A mindset shift in life sciences organizations will be equally important where we need to identify customer problems and solve them with a mix of our products including customization of products as per customer requirements, rather than just supporting standalone product requirements.
  • Importance of Digitization: Research and Innovation especially in the healthcare sector are progressively adopting digital and artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate innovation and convenience for business transactions with their suppliers or customers. As the customers across different sectors widen their choice of products and services, e-commerce and cloud-based procurement and supply chain platforms will play a key role in increasing customer connect. As analytics plays a critical role in e-commerce and technological advancement, data interpretations and statistics shall help to conclude results and improvisations in such advanced platforms.
  • Reliability: This is defined by consistent quality and delivery of products to support on-time and consistent results by our customers. An appropriate example is a race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. This requires the highest standards of quality ingredients for human use and life sciences and pharma companies have to perform conscientious efforts and think of reliable solutions to ensure quality supply. This will again be a differentiation point for life sciences providers with a reputation and capability for these attributes.

How Avantor is collaborating with institutions, companies where the whole world is focusing on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine? What kind of capability development Avantor is planning to infuse?

 During this unprecedented time of COVID- 19 pandemic, Avantor is playing a pivotal role in partnering with the organizations working on COVID-19 therapies. Our products and services play a critical role in the R&D, process development, and commercial scale production; an array of our products such as serum, process chemicals, single-use systems are present throughout the workflows of these therapies to get them to market safer and quicker.

On one hand, our technical and commercial teams are engaged with the customers to understand their process requirements and support them with required products and technologies and on the other hand, our operations and supply chain teams are relentlessly working on ramping up the capacities to meet the demand and delivering the same to all our customers across the globe. We are also working with various organizations in managing the packaging and cold chain of these therapies to support them with our robust laboratory portfolio.

Talking about the capability development, all major vaccine manufacturers, clinical data scientists & R&D scientists are looking for biopharma experts who have proficiency and competences to support them in terms of a consistent supply of raw material & single-use solutions designed for connecting various steps in their vaccine production process from upstream to downstream purification to fill and finish.

Avantor is one of the uniquely positioned organizations that serve in various phases of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic starting from testing the patients to developing and manufacturing of therapies, vaccines to the supply chain of these therapies to reach the billions of populations across the globe.

Our customers trust us as a valuable partner to provide our specified solutions in their processes and products for bringing existing and novel therapies faster to mankind to combat this pandemic globally and locally. This is in line with our mission of setting science in motion to create a better world.

Make in India is the new slogan for today’s manufacturing sector. How do you see Avantor participating Make in India campaign going forward?

Avantor has been at the forefront of Make in India for the past 30 years. Our manufacturing facilities in Panoli (Gujarat) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand) are providing world-class pharmaceutical excipients and diagnostics products to customers in India and abroad. The pharma materials have been critical in catalyzing the growth of India and spreading generic medicines across the globe. We have been regular recipients of quality and safety awards from the Indian government. We are rapidly expanding our capacity to meet existing needs as well launch new products anticipating customer needs. We are glad to say that our recently developed COVID-19 RT-PCR testing Universal Transfer Media (UTM) kits have won acceptance and positive feedback from both public health agencies and private health care providers.

In the space of supply chain network, how do you see biopharma and med-tech sector establishing themselves post COVID-19? Do you see the digital network platform as a key enabler?

 The digital network platform is a key enabler for the biopharma and med-tech industry. Pharmaceutical companies are running hard to keep pace with changes brought by digital technology. Be it mobile apps, the cloud, advanced analytics, and the Internet of things. These are among the innovations that are starting to transform their business processes. Furthermore, the emergence of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications unveiled a new wave of customer engagement in a meaningful, outcome-oriented manner.

In the new normal, postCOVID-19, most of the organizations are moving to digital technologies and are looking for cost effective solutions to control their operational costs. As a result, the prominence of cloud-based software has emerged that fully automates and optimizes the supply chain, giving insights on expenditure in procurement cost. Usage of such technologies creates value for both buyers and suppliers and gives a new dimension to supply chain networks.

Many pharmaceutical companies have already supported spend management best practices and are leveraging their unique combination of technology, commodity expertise, and services to drive their goals. It enhances suppliers, buyers, and user experience by bringing in a digital transformation to the supply chain process.

Avantor services proprietary digital solutions optimize every critical stage of lab management, as well as directly support digitization occurring throughout the lab ecosystem. Our full suite of digital solutions including Inventory manager, Chemical manager, and Equipment manager proactively monitor, manage, and automate time consuming tasks and processes.

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