The uncertain times the world finds itself in during this unprecedented health crisis has certainly opened everyone’s eyes to areas that could use more attention or development. As research continues in the quest to find a Coronavirus vaccine or effective treatments, the need for manufacturing capabilities will ultimately arise, if they have not already. However, because of the widespread effects and demands of the current public health crisis, many nations are rethinking the way they receive medicines of all kinds for their residents. Across the globe, there are powerhouses who manufacture much of the global supply of medications, but as all manufacturing systems are stressed and supply chains are disrupted, nations have started to think of alternate plans to prevent disruptions from happening again.
Take Europe, for example. A few months ago, the European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides went in front of the European Parliament’s health committee, explaining the many diplomatic obstacles she had to go through when asking foreign governments to lift export bans in an attempt to counteract the shortages. European pharmaceutical companies regularly have their medicines manufactured in India, and approximately 70% of the active ingredients used come from China, where the Coronavirus pandemic led to early widespread shutdowns. Such supply chain pathways are very common, but they are coming under scrutiny in this new world that people did not imagine mere months ago.
Changes are already underway, though. In Europe, Sandoz, a Novartis division that focuses on generics and biosimilars, has announced plans to partner with the Austrian federal government to strengthen future long-term antibiotics manufacturing in Europe. Sandoz CEO Richard Saynor states that the Sandoz production facility in Kundl, Austria is the center of the last integrated supply chain for antibiotics in this part of the world, and such a partnership will help maintain that supply chain. With over 150 million euros planned to be invested from both Sandoz and the government’s public funding initiative over the next five years, Sandoz hopes to help strengthen the competitive antibiotics supply chain, distributing medicines manufactured in Europe instead of importing it from other countries, such as China.
The supply chain, which already was fragile before the strain of the pandemic, is now coming to the forefront of many pharmaceutical companies’ attention. Just recently, a group of several well-known companies, including Merck and Pfizer, pledged to contribute to a $1 billion fund to buy time to strengthen the market until a more permanent solution is found. Related to this fund, an independent panel will determine funding for companies looking to create new antibiotics. Steps like this are making it increasingly clear that pharmaceutical companies are acknowledging inadequacies and potential obstacles in the drug manufacturing process and the supply chains.
Though we are living through a complicated and trying time, these new advances are positive, and should provide some confidence for growth in the long run. Major biopharmaceutical companies are projecting increased development in their CMO and CRO sectors. Because the thoughts of these potential roadblocks or inadequacies are now in their minds, they are eager to adapt practices and address these issues to make sure that they do not appear in the future, whether in another time of crisis or simply in everyday life.