A Year of Challenge and Opportunity
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption. And though pharma has had to overcome hurdles to manage the fallout, opportunities to show the industry’s commitment to its most important stakeholders – patients and employees – have emerged. As has the chance to implement new processes and technologies to maintain the continued development of the sector. Here, Deepak Sapra, Global Head of PSAI (Custom Pharma Services and Active Ingredients) at Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, explains the company’s approach to dealing with the ongoing crisis.
Maryam Mahdi | | Interview
This article is part of our special focus on "traditional" pharma: The Small Molecule Manufacturer (read more here). You can find more articles from The Small Manufacturer here.
What has been Dr. Reddy’s main priority during the pandemic?
The past few months have been very intense. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting lives, so we must find ways to support as many people as possible.
One of our first steps was to ensure that our workforce and their families were in good health. We have taken a host of measures in this regard so that we can continue to provide much-needed medicines to patients through this period of uncertainty. For our colleagues who work at our manufacturing sites, laboratories, and distribution centers, we have put in place additional layers of health and safety procedures to provide them with a safe working environment. These include significantly enhancing capacity of our buses for social distancing, temperature checks at all entry and exit points, providing PPEs to employees and contractors, disinfecting machines to spray outer garments and shoe soles as well as social distancing measures. In addition, some plants were used to make disinfectants and hand sanitizer. We are also closely following and complying with the advice from our local governments and health authorities, and have issued guidance for remote working for all our colleagues who can do so.
How else is the company addressing the crisis?
The pandemic has raised questions on the reliability of global supply chains and companies are now trying to ensure its resilience and reliability. A strong supply chain network with reliable partners is key to addressing the problem. Fortunately, we had already started to implement initiatives to help mitigate risks well before the COVID-19 outbreak began. In recent years, we have formed strategic sourcing and logistic partnerships, reassessed our capacity management systems for our manufacturing units, and included the backward integration of key starting materials into our production processes. We are also continuing to mitigate geographical risks by leveraging our manufacturing set up across three continents, for both our APIs and for our formulations.
Do you think COVID-19 will affect how the industry operates in the long term?
In our industry, most companies quickly moved to working remotely through digitized processes and video conferencing. I think we all saw how COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digitalization. I hope we can keep this agility and speed for continued improvement in efficiency and work practices.