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Co-creating a smart ecosystem for pharma

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India Pharma Inc needs to build a more efficient and innovation-centric ecosystem which is aligned with global trends and requirements By Lakshmipriya Nair

It is all about ‘smart ecosystems’ these days. Most conversations in every industry revolve around creating one and sustaining it to leapfrog progress. But, how should the pharma industry go about doing it? Well, the answer to this question lies in our understanding of the word ‘smart’. In this era of digitalisation, people often associate it with the deployment of ICT technologies that enable various elements in any given environment to integrate and interact to improve productivity and efficiency. Yet many, including us at Express Pharma, believe that a ‘smart ecosystem’ involves not just technology but also people, their strategies and collaborations.

As Tom Malone, American organisational theorist, management consultant, and Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management highlights, “A lot of the most important innovations in the next couple of decades will not be innovations in technology itself but innovations in how people work together.”

Annam Visala

Therefore, in our recently organised Hyderabad Pharma Summit, we chose the theme, ‘Co-creating a smart ecosystem for pharma’, with a focus on this larger definition. And, as Express Pharma continued with its quest to enable accelerated growth in India Pharma Inc by optimising the immense potential in various pharma hubs across the country, this thought-leadership platform in Hyderabad brought regulators, industry stalwarts and game-changers together to deliberate on the creation of a ecosystem which would be aligned with and responsive to global trends and requirements.

In this article, we share some of our key learnings from the event:
Constructive engagement between regulators and industry is vital — In a complex stakeholder environment like the pharma sector, only an effective relationship between regulators and industry can help to serve the interests of all and usher excellence. This message was clearly reiterated as Annam Visala, Deputy Drugs Controller India, Hyderabad Zonal Office CDSCO, the keynote speaker gave a detailed overview of the various endeavours by the regulatory body for the advancement of India’s pharma sector such as measures to make the country a hub for R&D. She also spoke at length on the need for these steps and how they can raise the reputation of India Pharma Inc globally.

Chakravarthi AVPS

But, our key learning from the session was that while these measures can definitely increase transparency, accountability and the credibility of India Pharma Inc, their effective implementation would be largely dependent on open communication and constant dialogue between industry and the regulatory authorities. Now, more than ever, mutual trust and understanding between regulatory authorities and industry are critical. Therefore, regulators must comprehend business operations and risks in a better manner and the industry must appreciate regulatory and policy objectives better. Only then will the fragile and often contentious relationship between industry and regulators improve to provide significant benefits such as market growth, better product approval processes, and development of new and innovative therapies.

A growth mindset is key to succeed in the digital age — One of our eminent speakers, Chakravarthi AVPS, Global Ambassador, World Packaging Organisation, highlighted that the pharma industry should get ready to be disrupted at a level unseen due to technological advancements. He also informed that patient empowerment, technological disruptions with AI, new therapeutic areas like pharmacogenetics, evolving regulations will be crucial factors while India Pharma Inc strategises to conquer new frontiers and establish its dominance in untapped markets.

Srinivas Lanka

And, our most important insight from his interesting session was that as the dynamics of the pharma industry change, organisations and their workforce will have to adopt a growth mindset culture to stay relevant and gain success. Profitability and competitiveness in global markets will be dependent on the ability to take the major shifts caused by technological advancements into account and build a culture that is agile, encourages transparency, promotes data-driven decision-making, as well as make room for experimentation and hyper-learning.

Only by designing more effective strategies and embracing a culture of constant learning will it be possible to differentiate in a crowded marketplace, optimise growth potential and emerge as a front-runner in this era of digitalisation. Skill building is an urgent need — Hyderabad Pharma Summit also addressed a topic that has a lot of bearing on India Pharma Inc’s progress – reducing its dependence on API imports.

Srinivas Lanka, Mentor, Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, Ayurveda & Health Technologies, ElixGlobal and Consultant – Pharmexcil took the stage to talk on this topic and informed that the imports have almost doubled in four years. He also suggested remedial measures to tackle our disproportionate dependency on API imports and underlined to the audience that India’s pharma industry has a unique chance to revive its API industry with proficiency in continuous flow synthesis or flow chemistry. The cost disadvantage in large volume products due to large reactor capacity of China, could be overcome through continuous flow synthesis efficiency.

Shantanu Panda

So, the most significant takeaway from this session was that we need to urgently invest in skilling to deal with the shortage of skilled manpower which is hindering the growth of the industry. He pointed out that creating a workforce that is skilled in specialised areas like fermentation, flow chemistry, asymmetric synthesis, catalysis, biocatalysts, formulations — drug delivery systems, fluorination chemistry, vapour phase technologies, and biologics will enable India to build and strengthen its capabilities as well as maintain our current market share and grow.

Thus, developing and implementing skill development and training programmes effectively will facilitate the pharma industry to enhance their research capabilities, encourage self-reliance and growth of exports as well as promote frequency of innovations. As an OPPI report on ‘Workforce of the future’ recommends, “Leaders can leverage human ingenuity and technology to ready their organisations for growth and innovation, but they need to move fast. They must relentlessly anticipate and act on change. ”

Create value beyond the product — Detailing how the pharma industry is battling various challenges, Barun Kumar Dey, Director & Head – Packaging Development, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. He recommended every pharma company to draw out a programme or a strategy that will offer them end-to-end brand protection. He also touched on several traditional strategies such as quality improvement, automation, inventory management, efficient supply chain, authentication, alternates etc.

Ajit Rangnekar

This session brought into focus how crucial it is to be customer-centric and create value beyond the pill to create a fool-proof strategy for brand protection. It reiterated the importance of connecting with the stakeholders of the industry in newer ways, as customer experience will be the true differentiator in the pharma sector. Thus, in the new patient economy, a deeper understanding of disease and customers to, encouraging customer feedback, co-create customer services which will be one-of-a-kind to create superior customer experiences will help build brand loyalty.

An agile supply chain is central to a smart ecosystem — It is been made abundantly clear that a smart ecosystem has to be flexible, transparent and responsive. And, none of this is really achievable without a highly-functioning and efficient supply chain. This fact was clearly accentuated by Shantanu Panda, DGM-Global Packaging Strategy (OSD), Mylan Laboratories. He highlighted the various opportunities and challenges in pharma logistics and elaborated on the ways and measures to optimise the growth potential in this sector.

His presentation reiterated the need for an agile supply chain to gain striking economic benefits to the top and bottom line of businesses. And, be it integrated planning and execution, visibility, procurement, warehousing, inventory management, or logistics, the pharma supply chain needs newer efficiencies. It is vital to enhance customer experience and patient-centricity, by delivering the right product to the right person as swiftly as possible. It will also help enforce better quality control, safeguard therapeutic efficacy of products, enable faster delivery of services and improve regulatory compliance.

Barun Kumar Dey

Thus, an agile supply chain ushers complete awareness and improved collaboration through the rapid exchange of information to bring in significant benefits at strategic and operational levels, and create a more perceptive ecosystem that fosters progress. Collaborations will be the way forward for continued success — This is a clear inference from the session on scaling R&D capabilities by Dr Ajit Rangnekar, Director General, Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad Partner, SVP India. He elaborated on how India Pharma Inc needs to ramp up its investment and efforts to hone and augment its skills in R&D and transform them into major determinants of success. But, he pointed out how R&D expenditures are growing up while the outcomes are proportionate to the spend. He went on to point out that personalised medicine will take centre stage and highlighted the growing trend of technology players foraying into the pharma and healthcare sectors.

All these are clear indications that as the industry evolves and matures, partnerships will become the way forward to grapple with heretofore unwitnessed challenges and move towards true progress. This session drove home the message that it is important than ever before for pharma companies to share and exchange their knowledge and learnings for collective and more holistic growth.

This same fact has been reiterated by several other industry analysts and industry reports as well. For instance, the lead author of a report by Bain & Company, says, “India has to become healthy even as it moves towards becoming wealthy. This creates huge potential for growth for the Indian life sciences industry. At the same time, the environment is changing rapidly and companies must react promptly to build future-ready business models for access, quality and financial viability. Stakeholders must come together to shape the future direction in a way that allows broad-based health improvement while building a sustainable business.”

Unlocking India Pharma Inc’s growth potential India needs to construct an ecosystem for pharma which would be more astute, future-ready and innovation-driven. And, Hyderabad Pharma Summit brought this fact to the fore. Now, the stakeholders need to come together and handhold each other to walk the talk and start implementing the learnings gained to capitalise on the potential for growth.

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