Our Chief Commercial Officer, Strategic Growth Unit, Paul Burden, provides his perspective on how ADVANZ PHARMA has overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic in supplying critical medicines in the UK, as well as the company’s commitment to growth in an everchanging environment.
If we look back on the last six months, when it became clear that the impact of Covid-19 was going to be one of profound and lasting change, it’s unsurprising that many expected significant disruption to supply chains within the pharmaceutical industry. However, half a year on, I can say that at ADVANZ PHARMA, we have worked hard to well and truly rise to the challenge through our resilience, close collaboration with partners and ultimately by placing patient needs at the forefront of our thoughts, to ensure continued access and availability of medicines. Managing efficient supply to the NHS relies on a host of everchanging elements that must be expertly synchronised. Balancing these components, such as increased demand and cultural shifts, would not be possible without close collaboration and cooperation from across the industry.
Thankfully healthcare is a field that is accustomed to change and, at ADVANZ PHARMA, we take our responsibility to ensure we can maintain supply tomorrow, next week and next month incredibly seriously. As a sole supplier of many important medicines, we minimise risk wherever possible. As an organisation, we already had a number of contingency measures in place as part of our multifaceted model, such as holding a higher than industry average amount of safety supplies, creating a built-in “buffer” in our stockholding, meaning we were able to meet demand surges when they were at their peak earlier this year.
Working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Commercial Medicines Unit (CMU) meant we were able to provide transparency on our available stock holding, and meant we were well placed to support the NHS’s requirement for a number of vital treatments. In fact, back in March, we were able to supply almost 50% of the DHSC’s list of critical ICU medicines. The medicines we were unable to supply were products not in our portfolio. Our investment in dual sourcing throughout Europe is another way we safeguard our supply to ensure there is always a safety net in place for whatever may arise. Of course, supply shortages happen, but we work extremely closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure things can be quickly resolved if this is the case.
While we supply to 90+ countries worldwide, the role we play in the UK market has always been incredibly important. We have operated in the UK for many years and have played a significant role in ensuring continued access to many critical medicines. As we have built our position as a leading platform for niche and established medicines, with advanced commercial capabilities throughout Western Europe, we endeavour to replicate the business scale that we have in the UK, across key European markets. We have already made significant in-roads to this plan, with the acquisition of Correvio Pharma in May of this year. This not only reinforces our European capability and position in the Anti-Infectives therapy area, but means we now have a strong European platform through which we can launch further complex and specialty products to market, reaching additional patients and healthcare systems. The Correvio acquisition also brings a highly experienced team, with significant commercial and medical knowledge, as well as established relationships with healthcare professionals across Europe - something we are very much looking to build upon.
ADVANZ PHARMA focuses on providing niche and established medicines, which often target the needs of specialised patient populations. We recognised that we needed greater capability in the business to engage increasingly at a clinical level, to develop valuable and trusted relationships with physicians and patient associations. We have recently invested in our medical function, bringing Nick Warwick into the business as Chief Medical Officer, along with several other key hires, to further develop our effectiveness in this area. We hope that through our closer engagement with the medical community we will be better placed to invest in meaningful innovation that brings clear value to patients and healthcare providers.
The impact of Brexit
While we are all still working out what a ‘new normal’ really means, it’s important to also take into consideration the ongoing impact of Brexit and the transitionary period we are working through. We know that Brexit will inevitably bring change and we have to be familiar and aware of the effects it will have, but at the same time, at ADVANZ PHARMA we feel well-prepared and confident that we will continue to maintain supply of our medicines during the post transition period, and beyond. We don’t expect Brexit to impact the value we bring to the NHS and we will continue to expand on our investment and commitment to key markets around Europe, in parallel with the UK.
The progress of ADVANZ PHARMA in recent years is a real testament to the adaptability and diligence of a committed team, and we’re proud of the role we have played during the challenging times of the pandemic in supplying the NHS with many of its critical medicines. We’re not afraid of change and, more than ever, are committed to investing in our future and our patients as we navigate this post-Brexit and post-Covid world together.