Why is everyone afraid to share data? GPLS finds

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Updated on October 4th, 2019 at 06:00 IST

At the third Global Pharma Logistics Summit (GPLS) 2019, panelists discussed technological advancements, creation of data, the existence of trust deficit in sharing data, need for educating and building a skilled workforce for better handling of pharma cargo.

Precision medicine and the need to upgrade logistical support for changing pharmaceutical needs was among the trends identified during the third edition of the Global Pharma Logistics Summit 2019 held on September 19, 2019 in Mumbai.

Dr Aniruddha PaulSpelling out the major trends for the short-term and long-term in the pharmaceutical industry, audience member, Dr Aniruddha Paul, GM sales & marketing, APAC & MENA, Clearsynth said, "One [trend] that will be seen, maybe 3-4 years from now is you will have the same APIs [active pharmaceutical ingredient] but in a deuterated form. A different isotope form has different kinds of applications and is changing the way therapy will be defined. The other, that will slightly be more long-term, maybe 15-20 years from now it will be a household topic, is nanomedicines. Nanomedicines will change the entire definition of medicines. Today, except for vaccines, whatever medicines we have are for treatment. Nanomedicines are completely prophylactic, i.e. 90 percent will be for preventing a disease in the first place."

During the panel discussion titled ‘Airlines, forwarders and handlers – how to fill gaps and eliminate temperature excursions’, panelists agreed that more than the physical gap, it is the necessary to fill the information gap.

Members in the Conference

Ravi Kumar Tummalapalli, head of logistics – APAC, Japan & China, Teva Pharmaceuticals said, “The gaps are of two types – information and physical. Every time there is a change in the handling agency, I see gaps being created because information is not being passed from one agency to the other seamlessly. At this point, the gaps could be in between the manufacturer, customs agency, transport, or the warehouse at the airport. The same thing can happen at the destination also. As of now, the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the product and data is maintained.” 

PBN-PrasadS-Anantha-Krishnan

The exchange of information and the upgrading of technology can bring transparency in the cool chain. They agreed that the chain of right packaging-transporting-freight forwarding-airline being important when it comes to efficiently transporting temperature-sensitive pharma products. 

Praphul Chandra, founder & chief scientist, Koinearth, however, had a different opinion on the sharing of data. 

Speaking on the panel ‘Innovating at every stage of the temperature-controlled supply chain to ensure the integrity of pharma cargo’, Chandra said, “For every individual or entity involved in the supply chain, it is individually rational not to share the data. When sharing data I am opening myself to potential claims that temperature or any other controls were violated when the cargo was under my control. So why should I share data? I think the problem is only partly a technological problem, partly it’s an economic problem. There should be proper incentives in place for me to share the data. The cost can be covered. There are three ways this can happen: the pharma industry did track-and-trace several years ago. It was done because it was strict as the regulatory body came down with a stick and said you have to do it. That was approach one. What Pharma.Aero is doing is approach two, i.e. building on the goodwill and trying to build a consortium. The only third way I see is that the entity which benefits the most from compliance and other controls in the supply chain offers both bonuses and penalties for sharing data, as well for maintaining temperature as the cargo travels.”

Abdul Gafoor, director – enterprise solutions, Delhivery agreed with Chandra when he said that technology is not the problem, but lack of trust in what technology can make possible is the real problem. “Nobody is 100 percent sure that their data is compliant, and that’s why they are afraid to share data,” said Chandra. 

Gafoor further added that basic discipline and consistency at the ground level, in terms of following instructions to the T while handling shipments was more important as there’s hardly any innovation at the ground level.

L to R: Moderator Reji John, Stephen Maietta of Envirotainer, Vikram Khurana of Sheetal Parivahan, Rajasekhara Reddy of Glenmark, Manoj Singh of MIAL,  Ashok Bhattacharya of Takeda Pharma India, Sudhir Mohan Bansal of Pfizer India, Alan Fernandes of Sanofi India, and Venugopal Bangera of CSC Mumbai

The need for synergy and workshops becoming game changers to find solutions, educating and skilling the mid-level executives in the handling of pharma cargo, test labs to help mitigate problems, and for accountability was discussed in great detail.

PBN Prasad, deputy drugs controller, Central Drug Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Ministry of health & family welfare, Govt of India, and S Anantha Krishnan, commissioner of customs (export), Mumbai Customs addressed the attendees. Manoj Singh, senior vice president & head cargo, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) also apprised the audience on the digitisation efforts by the government, wherein airlines have been sent a notice from the Prime Minister’s Office which sets October 31 as the deadline for no use of paper at air cargo terminals. 

The Summit also saw e-commerce platform Delhivery becoming part of Pharma.Aero, the cross-industry collaboration for cargo industry stakeholders. The partnership was signed by Gafoor and Frank van Gelder, secretary-general, Pharma.Aero, in the presence of board member Donald D’Souza, director commercial, Sharjah International Airport, and Singh. 

Around 65 companies, including Takeda Pharma India, Pfizer India, Glenmark, Swiss WorldCargo, GSK Asia, Biocon, Sun Pharma, FedEx, Zydus Group, Expeditors among others, participated in the day-long Summit organised by Indian Transport and Logistics News, a sister publication of STAT Trade Times. The event was sponsored by Cargo Service Centre, MIAL, Delhivery, DokaSch Temperature Solutions, Penta Freight, Allied Aviation, Kale Logistics and Cold Box.

This feature was originally published in STAT Trade Times' October 2019 issue.

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