Dr Subhash C Mandal

The global pandemic caused multiple disruptions in the Pharma industry but also opened doors to the digital transformation of the sector and the supply chains. Shedding light on the transformation of the Pharma sector in India amid the COVID crisis, Dr Subhash C Mandal, Vice President & Chairman, Regulatory Affairs Division, Indian Pharmaceutical Association, spoke at the Elets Pharma Leadership Summit.

Despite disrupting the economic sectors worldwide, the COVID pandemic posed a boon in disguise and opened doors to transform the entire Healthcare industry. During the COVID crisis, the entire Pharma industry was disrupted due to lockdowns and the lack of availability of proper medicines and other medical supplies.

Also read: Next Push : Automation and EHR Integration for Healthier Supply Chains

Citing J Jayseelan’s deliberation, Dr Subhash C Mandal said that doctors, during the pandemic, needed an uninterrupted supply of drugs and vaccines. Looking at the industry requirements and saving lives of millions, the Indian Pharma industry built capacities and acted promptly to ensure smooth production and supplies to the doctors.

He added that from formulation to gaining experience, trials, and mass production, developing a vaccine in the pre-COVID era meant a long process that used to take years. However, during the pandemic, the Indian Pharma sector came up with COVID vaccines within months to save lives not only of their compatriots, but also of the people in other countries. This was made possible by the much-needed policy reforms and timely implementation by the Government of India. Also, regulators and licensing authorities played a key role in easing the process for the retailers to gain licenses and enabled the suppliers to supply volumes to meet the needs. Moreover, the local trial omission was put to practice to further ease the long process. Under this, if a vaccine is tested and passed in a country like the US or European countries, the vaccines would be allowed to be sold in the Indian market without holding any local trials.

He further averred that the policy reforms enabled Indian Pharma companies like Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila to effectively adopt technologies. These companies have come up with multiple innovative drugs to tackle the situation and have developed the much-needed COVID vaccines. For example, Bharat Biotech along with Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) developed Covaxin. This is a classic example of how a government agency can join hands with the private sector and develop revolutionary products to serve humanity. Another historic innovation was developing a DNA based vaccine, ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila, which is first-of-a-kind in the world.

Supply chains in the pharmaceutical industry were another area that witnessed major disruptions due to the nationwide lockdowns. Therefore, the industry reorganised and digitised its supply chain infrastructure and transformed operations. The digital transformation of the supply chain enabled the industry to leverage data-driven decisions, real-time monitoring, and cutting down on human errors. The industry actively adopted technologies like data analytics, AI-based predictive analysis, etc. to effectively evolve its supply chains that resulted in better productivity and optimised operations.

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