Recently, Chemistry Today held a virtual panel on pharmaceutical supply chain, PharmaBlock's delegates Dr. Shijie Zhang, Dr. Jack Chen, Ms.Celine Chen shed light on how technology innovation as a unique solution to improve sustainable suppy chain, reduce carbon footprint, and lower the cost.
What are in your view the biggest upcoming challenges in supply chain?
Sustainability has evolved as a prominent consideration in pharmaceutical supply-chain management; pharmaceutical and biotech companies' sustainability concerns have expanded beyond the reliability of their raw material suppliers to encompass the challenges of carbon emissions, water usage, and waste. As a critical player in the pharmaceutical supply chain, CDMOs should take proactive responsibility and collaborate with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to develop and adhere to their sustainability targets.
Which strategies do you consider as suitable to mitigate the risks in supply chain management? E.g. re-shoring, back integration, diversifications of suppliers and regions? What are the benefits and risks？
The risks in recent years are very much geo-politically headlined while less is discussed on traditional risks such as economic and environmental changes. A balanced view is needed. For small molecules, the very long supply chain all the way to basic chemicals and reagents has been firmly rooted in Asia, particularly in China over the past 30 years. The entrepreneurship spirit that has been powering the supply chain changes will continue to support the innovators in the west and the increasing innovators in the east. CDMOs that are capable of back integration to the long supply chain, and having strong chemistry capability to make key intermediates and reagents, are preferred partners to mitigate risks. Global footprints give some of them more levers to transfer key materials and/or manufacturing across borders on behalf of clients. Risks will persist, but solutions are being generated. Trusted and capable partners are the best way to mitigate risks.
What initiatives or programs do you consider as appropriate to improve the robustness and resilience of your supply chains in the current environment of increasing political uncertainty and transportation problems due to lockdowns and closed borders? Do you expect to transfer some of the cost to your customers? What initiatives or programs have you initiated in the past 6 months?
Expanding its global footprint is what PharmaBlock has been working on to strengthen the supply chain. We have R&D and production facilities in both China and the United States. In addition to the Process R&D Center in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, our new facility in West Chester, Pennsylvania, will be operated in the coming March to improve clinical API supply capabilities in the United States. We are also seeking chances to expand across Europe.
Furthermore, we have been improving continuous business planning and execution across all the research and manufacturing facilities, and developing multiple backup sources for key materials. Even though local pandemic management in China is rigorous, authorities have gained experience in how to better balance emergency management and normal production and operation.
Costs are growing due to increased energy, transportation, and raw material costs, but passing the cost on to customers is not a long-term solution. We believe that only by fundamentally upgrading chemistry and low-carbon technologies, including but not limited to continuous flow chemistry, micropacked bed hydrogenation, bio-catalysis, etc., can we drive pharmaceutical manufacturing to be more efficient and ecologically friendly, hence reducing the cost.
How could / should governments support the reorganization of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry to help improve the supply security? What technologies should they support?
Continuous flow manufacturing is one of the most efficient solutions to handle green energy challenges and enhance efficiency; combined with automation and digitalization, it will genuinely transform chemical and pharmaceutical production. The ICH guideline has outlined scientific approaches and regulatory considerations specific to the continuous manufacturing of drug substances and drug products. Governments should encourage and push the regional development of this sustainable technology. We have implemented continuous flow chemistry and micropacked bed hydrogenation technologies in both China and the United States, from research to commercial scale.
What action do you have planned to manage the increasing requirements for sustainability and reduction of carbon footprint in your supply chain?
We have invested heavily and will continue to invest in multiple fronts to support sustainable economic development and reduce the carbon footprint in our supply chain. In addition to the current continuous manufacturing workshop equipped in PharmaBlock Zhejiang, a new workshop dedicated to flow chemistry is planned and to be built in the next two years that will further reduce energy consumption in manufacturing. PharmaBlock’s Technology Innovation Center” (TIC) has recently added two groups, chemistry and process, in addition to the three original groups, equipment, flow chemistry, and enzyme/catalyst. The mission of TIC is to invent new technologies to improve manufacturing efficiency and reduce environmental burden such as waste generation. The chemistry and the process groups focus on developing new chemistry to greatly improve chemical synthesis efficiency and reduce PMI, rendering manufacturing greener from the origin. Recently PharmaBlock was honored to receive the 2023 CMO Excellence in Green Chemistry Award presented by ACS GCI PR (ACS Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable). The award-winning project was for a novel continuous process for producing an intermediate used in the API synthesis of multiple marketed drugs. The work helps achieve 20-fold efficiency in terms of energy consumption, workspace, and workforce, in addition to much lower PMI.
HERE YOU CAN FIND THE E-VERSION OF THE ISSUE: https://www.teknoscienze.com/Contents/Riviste/Sfogliatore/CO1_2023/
Source：TKS publisher event organiser media agency