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Express Pharma and Schneider Electric co-host seminar on future ready pharma plants

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Held in Vadodara, Gujarat, industry stakeholders discuss the role of technology to keep processes and infrastructure at peak performance in pharma facilities

Lakshmipriya NairVadodara

Production innovations are influencing every company in pharma, be it giant multinationals or third-party manufacturers. This scenario has made embracing change through technology vital to maintaining and creating a competitive edge. Therefore, Express Pharma, a leading publication from The Indian Express Group and Schneider Electric recently co-hosted a seminar on ‘Future Ready Pharma Plants’ in Vadodara, Gujarat.

The unique, knowledge-sharing event saw a congregation of industry experts, thought leaders and peers as they jointly discussed just what it takes to leverage technology to keep processes and infrastructure at peak performance in pharma facilities.

Rakesh Mukhija

The event began with live demonstration of Schneider Electric’s practical and actionable solutions for the edification of representatives from leading pharma companies. It was followed with a presentation by Rakesh Mukhija, Director, Life Sciences Solutions, Schneider Electric, who spoke on the role of technology in improving financial performance and the need to create a technology blueprint to build world class pharma facilities.

A panel discussion which brought together different stakeholders of the pharma industry, including the regulators, was the highlight of the event. Dr CD Shelat, Assistant Commissioner, FDCA, Surat; Bharat Desai, Managing Director, Bharat Parenterals and Immediate Past Chairman, IDMA – GSB; Rajubhai R Shah, Managing Director, Mercury Laboratories; Appasaheb S Kabadagi, Associate Vice President Head – Central Project Cell, Alembic Pharmaceuticals; and Shrinivas Chebbi, Vice President, Partner Projects and Eco Buildings, Schneider Electric were the eminent panelists. Moderated by Viveka Roycowdhury, Editor, Express Pharma, the session addressed the need to reduce energy costs and improve processes, reinforce plant security to protect staff, equipment and reput    ation and take a modular approach to build a world-class pharma plant. It also highlighted the various challenges  hampering the growth of the industry and the measures which can help tackle them effectively.

Roychowdhury began the session by drawing attention to the pain points in the industry such as product recalls, warning letters from international regulators, and loss of credibility for Indian Pharma Inc and asked Dr Shelat to share his views on these issues.

A live demonstration of Schneider Electric’s solutions for the pharma sector

Dr Shelat stated that lack of awareness, improper processes are the leading causes which have led to these challenges. He urged the industry to upgrade themselves regularly and implement better good manufacturing processes (GMPs) and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to reduce and prevent issues with quality. He also emphasised on the need to move with the times and embrace technology to improve efficiency and efficacy in the pharma industry. He also opined that continuous training for not only the industry but also the regulators can have tremendous positive impact and mitigate the current challenges significantly.

Next, Roychowdhury asked Desai to share his perspective as an industry veteran on the measures needed to build future ready pharma plants.

Desai emphasised that energy conservation is an important aspect when it comes to creating world-class pharma facilities. He pointed out it is an energy-intensive industry and strategic measures such as opting as renewable energy sources, technological interventions to prevent loss of energy etc. can go a long way in making a pharma plant future ready. He underlined that technology is a major facilitator of efficiency and urged the audience to adopt high-tech solutions to enhance the relevance of their business in the current scenario. Desai also explained the role of industry bodies like IDMA in encouraging pharma companies to be more tech-evolved and utilise the potential of technology to gain rich dividends.

(L-R) A Revanand, Dr CD Shelat, Bharat Desai, Rajubhai R Shah, Appasaheb S Kabadagi, Shrinivas Chebbi and Rakesh Mukhija

The moderator then asked Kabadagi to speak on the experiences of Alembic Pharma as a early adopter of technology to drive their growth. She also asked him to explain how his organisation can be a role model for other pharma companies to emulate while transitioning as high-tech entities. Kabadagi spoke on Alembic Pharma’s growth as a leading pharma player in the country and the role of technology in its progress. He explained the concept of future ready pharma plants in detail and shared valuable insights on the parameters which need to be considered while choosing technology solutions for pharma plants. As a customer of Schneider Electric, he also recommended the company as a great partner which can hand hold pharma companies as they embrace technology in different aspects of their operations to evolve as better entities offering enhanced value to their customers. He emphasised that the journey towards being future ready begins today.

The next panelist, Shah addressed an allegation often levelled at the pharma sector – of being a technology laggard. He refuted the allegations and traced the tremendous progress made by the industry since Independence. He pointed out that the industry has evolved and transformed from being a major importer in the 1950s to a leading exporter of pharma products in the current times. But, he also admitted that at times pharma companies refrain from adopting technology as they are unsure of the dividends and believe that it would eat into their profit margins. He advised the pharma sector to be more open to change and implement measures which give them long-term benefits instead of looking at short-term gains.

Roychowdhury then asked Chebbi to give his views on this pivotal issue and explain how Schneider Electric can play a role in transforming the life sciences industry through technology solutions.

A Revanand

Chebbi pointed out that India is taking great strides and the pharma sector has huge potential to accelerate the country’s progress march. He also states that the lifesciences could be the segment which can bring in very rich dividends, similar to the IT boom which highlighted India as an emerging leader in the global arena. He, however, opined that the potential needs to be leveraged in the right way at the right time and pointed out the role of technology in doing so. He expressed concerns that unless strategic measures were taken by the industry, it is possible that we might miss the bus and not be able to optimise the opportunities opening up for growth in the life sciences sector. He also said that his company is interested in building sustainable collaborations with the life sciences industry and would like to extend a hand to any pharma company who wishes to improve there future readiness. He also highlighted the various solutions offered by Schneider Electric for the life sciences sector.

The audience also posed several questions to the panelists. Various interesting suggestions and recommendations emerged during the interactive Q&A session. One of them was that Schneider Electric should adopt a pharma company and by example demonstrate the benefits of going high-tech. Roychowdhury summed up the session with a message that being future ready involves a cost but it is much lesser than the cost of not doing so.  The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks by A Revanand, Regional Sales Director, Proximity, Schneider Electric. He thanked all the participants for making the event a great success.

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