What Can Pharma Learn From The Coronavirus Crisis?
The novel coronavirus or the COVID-19 pandemic has had its fair share of impacts on global markets and health industries in particular. The impact of the outbreak has been felt all around the world by investors, financials, and consumer behavior. There have been extreme fluctuations in the stock market worldwide.
Such a medical crisis is a double-edged sword for manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and lab equipment. The demand for many medical products rises on one hand.
On the other hand, there is a significant impact on the supply chain for manufacturers across industries by a crisis on such a large scale. In the process of manufacturing, China has become a critical player in many industries, the pharma industry is no different. A perfect reminder of the risks of relying on a single overseas point of failure in the manufacturing supply chain can be seen in this COVID-19 crisis.
As a result of the supply chain caused by the crisis, the FDA has announced upcoming shortages in drugs and products. Pharmaceuticals and other ingredients that are part of the production process for human drugs are in short supply, in addition to protective gear such as masks and surgical gloves. Such shortages only serve to compound the problem.
How is the pharma industry handling the crisis?
Trying to keep up with regular orders while still supplying the new high demand, manufactures hard at work. As the industry is plagued by supply chain disruptions from the East where the virus impacts businesses the most, these efforts are made all the more difficult.
Preparing for the next crisis
To challenge the global health care market, COVID-19 is not the first, nor will it be the last virus that causes widespread panic. Observing the crisis’s short-term effects and long-term ramifications upon the market as the crisis unfolds is important. It is safe to say that the industry will need to change and adapt to deal with this crisis and the future crisis as at this time, there is no certainty as to when this outbreak will subside.
What are the things that the pharma industry can learn from this coronavirus crisis and be prepared?
1. Plan ahead
It is fairly impossible to prepare for the unexpected, but you will be able to create a contingency plan for the future by reviewing the way the crisis impacts your business now.
In the event of an emergency, having a conceptual idea of the steps to take will come in handy though no plan can ever be perfectly accurate.
If employees are quarantined, how would your business operate? Outline the way of operation, must you halt all operations or will they work from home? You will be able to brainstorm and develop possible solutions when you consider these questions ahead of time. Maintaining regular operations may be impossible if your business is factory- or customer-based. Your contingency plan is even more critical in such a case.
Your physical premises must be safeguarded. During a shutdown on any scale, if your business has a storefront or laboratory, it is vulnerable. Consider installing cameras and other safety measures and ensure that your doors are secured. Important aspects of any emergency preparedness plan include protecting your livelihood from the elements, vandalism, and robbery.
Stay compassionate and be flexible. Your employees are people, too. It is vital to remain flexible to adapt to changing situations and sudden developments though it is best to establish policies to handle such events.
2. Network of support
The COVID-19 crisis has hit the manufacturers who depend on Chinese providers of components and raw materials the hardest. Delivering orders or maintaining day-to-day operations will be affected by this dependence as it can be real damage to a business.
A smart strategy across all your business operations is researching and flagging alternatives and other options for mission-critical suppliers, as well as service providers. To avoid a shortage, maintaining a well-stocked supply of all essentials is also encouraged. Businesses can better withstand short-term crises with minimized impact by keeping the potential of a supply shortage in mind.
3. Go local
Sometimes, local production can be more costly but, at times of global crisis, having another option for avoiding international trade in the manufacturing process can prove to be valuable. Getting supplies from usual international sources may be a challenge, if not impossible during the global crisis as entire countries are quarantined and international shipping becomes more and more difficult.
The difference between taking a hit, and shutting down operations completely is when you can have a list of local suppliers who can meet your needs in a pinch. Before the next crisis, whenever that may be, it is worth including a list of alternative suppliers to consider in your emergency plan.
4. Leverage AI, automation and robotics
More efficient business can be obtained by innovative technological solutions. You can understand and facilitate your company’s growth better with AI-powered BI and QMS systems. Your business in the future can be protected, particularly in the event of another viral epidemic, by investing in such technology at these early stages.
In the adoption of new technology including robots and automation, China, a worldwide leader in manufacturing and the fastest-growing market is leading the way. This early deployment of robotics and other manufacturing technology is relatively fortunate with the current lack of personnel available for on-site work in China in the wake of COVID-19.
Thermometer guns used to detect people’s temperatures, working remotely and video conferencing are a few examples of this new technology. Since the outbreak in China, such measures along with other advanced approaches have become commonplace. In developing possible treatments, tracking the spread and in detecting symptoms. artificial intelligence is assisting heavily.
5. Ready, set, SCALE!
A business can be made or broken by the agility to scale operations up and down according to market demands. You could have an opportunity to help save lives along with having a business advantage by being able to deliver high quality, compliant medical products at a time of crisis.
You can respond faster to radical changes in the market by a scaling plan as part of a contingency plan for such crises. For instance, to allow personnel to work from home in the event of quarantine, or to have the ability to quickly train employees to increase production, consider what tools and processes you would need to prepare accordingly. Between maintaining production and shutting down in the future, a difference can be made by looking into potential equipment rentals and emergency outsourcing of different stages of manufacturing.
We can improve the future for the pharma manufacturing industry by learning from the past and present. As manufacturers of health care products, we have been reminded by this pandemic that we are responsible for patients, doctors, nurses, and the public as a whole and not just to our investors.
We must face the challenges of growing demand and scarce resources plaguing the pharma industry as the COVID-19 crisis develops and unfolds. Simultaneously, the situation must be analyzed in an aim to be prepared better for the next crisis that may come in the future.
What Can Pharma learn from the coronavirus crisis – Source