The importance of information technology and its potential to enhance the life sciences industry’s performance has been accentuated by the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the whole value chain in the pharma sector is expected to see far-reaching changes. Bino George, Director, Solution Consulting, Infor India, explains how the Indian pharma sector can gain a competitive edge by becoming more compliant, efficient and proactive with technology-adoption and how his company can partner the pharma sector in this transformation
As a technology partner, tell us how COVID-19 is causing a metamorphosis in the life sciences industry.
The pandemic has hurried the drug discovery process as a lot of companies are now trying to discover the vaccine. It is going to be tough trying to discover and fulfil the needs of the population as we are already hearing about the evolution of other viruses too. When it comes to pandemic situations, it is important to a) respond quickly and handle the situation with whatever tools are available, b) work efficiently towards minimising the number of deaths among the people and c) minimise exposure of people by imposing stringent rules to flatten the curve. These are the three drivers and Infor has responded quickly and fairly effectively to the pandemic.
What are your views on technology adoption in the pharma sector?
In the pharma industry, technology has become a mandate for some of the compliances. Whether it is compliance or attaining a competitive edge, companies are looking at IT as a great enabler for achieving both. A lot of companies have started showing interest in the whole knowledge retention piece. It means that if they’re doing any kind of project, they would want to hold the knowledge within so that usability, innovation and speed to market are faster in the days to come.
What are the new practices that the Indian pharma sector needs to adopt to prepare for the future? How are you enabling these practices?
Pharma sector is heavily compliance-driven globally and we cannot get too innovative because we cannot risk the lives of humans who are going to consume these medicines for their various ailments. FDA is the highest standard that we have seen and has been one of the key drivers for technology. That is one space we are really chasing. Today, most of the pharma companies are able to trace the production batches. Tomorrow if there is a complaint of any nature they can to trace it back. We are also able to help a company attain energy efficiency as every equipment company’s use is rated to certain energy consumption – if it is higher or lower that means the equipment is technically getting damaged. So, compliance, energy consumption, emissions, carbon footprint compliance, these are aspects for pharma that we’re working on, globally and in India.
The pandemic has highlighted how the life sciences industry always needs to be in a prepared mode to deal with crises. So, how is Infor enabling performance optimisation, assets and equipment deployment for customers?
In the last 10 years, India has been playing a key role in developing and expanding the pharma business. But the challenge is to discover world-class drugs, drugs that are able to pass the most stringent tests by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the US. When it comes to technology, Infor has been bringing value to the whole pharma industry and providing our enterprise asset management solution, which is enabling our customers to comply with the 21 CFR Part 11 which is one of the FDA compliances expected from digital signatures, E-audits, calibration recordings done in the system automatically. Infor is one of the few companies in the world which is FDA compliant and has very large customers globally, like Pfizer and many others. Also, all the production assets in the pharma industry need to be of a certain quality and of a certain performance. By using our enterprise asset management solutions, we are enabling our customers with clear visibility to anticipate problems before they arise and ensure that the problems are taken care of before the equipment breaks down.
How does Infor help pharma companies to create a more secure environment?
Data breaches are a real fear and most of the customers are facing problems. In the US, HIPAA compliance and other healthcare compliances allow you to seamlessly move your electronic data across applications and it is encrypted or only available for privileged use, and not freely available anywhere to use. However, there is always a fear that data breaches can happen. It is going to be a continuous fight but that is where our solutions come into play. We are offering solutions on the cloud, AWS cloud, Infor EAM cloud, etc. We have AWS stringent security that helps us over and above our own product security. Our products have its checks and balances in place and the customers’ data is safe with us but when they deploy it on-premise they need to ensure that they are able to take care of all the data they have.
From a global strategy point of view, which sector is important for Infor in the Indian market?
Out of the three segments: pharma, life sciences and healthcare, our focus today is more on the pharma space because we see there are a need and a demand and we are already deeply engaged with very large Indian multinationals. So that is the focus area for us in India. Back office and SCM would have to be our second priority. While we do have healthcare solutions and customers in India, as and when India embraces the E-records of patients, we will bring in all the rest of the offerings.