FlyPharma US conference concludes its first successful year

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The FlyPharma US conference, hosted in the Miami International Airport Hotel, has closed its doors on its first year, having succeeded in facilitating new connections and promoting comprehensive and in-depth discussion into all aspects of the pharmaceutical supply chain.

The conference, the first FlyPharma conference to have been hosted in the United States, achieved its aim of bridging the gap between supply chain stakeholders and those working in the pharmaceutical industry.

The FlyPharma US conference saw discussions on a range of topics including everything from the potential of the blockchain in ensuring the safe transportation of medicines, to regulatory shifts that are shaking the pharmaceutical supply chain industry.

Driving all speakers was a desire to push the industry forwards and share expertise. Chaired by experienced pharma supply chain professional Rafik Bishara PhD, the conference ensured that first and foremost, the diversity of perspectives and opinions that delegates bring from their roles working were given an open and intelligent platform in which they could be shared.

Held over two days on 11-12 September, the conference opened with Manny Mencia, the senior vice president of trade and development at Enterprise Florida, who talked on the unique combination of factors that make the state of Florida an excellent choice for pharma supply chain companies. As the 16th largest economy in the world with an in-state GDP of $1 trillion, Florida exports more than $600 million worth of pharmaceutical products each year.

Meanwhile, the South Western state is third in the US for biopharmaceutical clinical trials, which contribute nearly $2.7 billion to the state’s annual GDP. Equally, the diversity in terms of age and ethnicity that is particularly apparent in Florida was noted to be especially conducive in conducting clinical trials.

“With such a diverse and multicultural population, I like to think that Florida provides an ideal environment for medical research,” said Mencia. Other delegates discussed their role in shipping pharmaceutical products through Miami into South America and the Caribbean. “We have excellent connections to South America and the Caribbean,” said Progressive Care CEO Shital Parikin, during the panel discussion – Global vs local – on the morning of the second day.

Ideas platform

In order to expand the discussion, and open a platform through which ideas could be shared, the first day saw a particularly successful workshop focusing on the question of “What responsibility do you have for the rest of the supply chain?” The workshop not only asked delegates to consider their role in the process, but highlighted the importance of taking responsibility for the supply chain as a whole. IATA assistant director Ronald Schaefer, suggested that: “Patient safety is a joint responsibility.”

Another delegate responded in suggesting that “the manufacturer bears the responsibility.” A detailed and expansive discussion continued as attendees offered in-depth analysis into the issue of responsibility in the supply chain.

In another discussion, DHL director of cold chain solutions at DHL, Raymond Poolat, offered insight into the potential of blockchain as he suggested that: “With blockchain a consumer could access all the supply chain information from the route taken, to the temperature at which the medicines were stored, from start to finish, simply from their mobile phone.”

Other guests pointed to the transparent, open and democratic potential of the innovative new technology which is set to disrupt the pharma supply chain industry over the coming decade.

In a panel discussion focusing on “Temperature control and monitoring for pharma products” with speakers from Amerijet International Airlines, The Illuminate Group, Pelican BioThermal and Bayer, delegates offered first-hand experiences in managing temperatures.

Discussion ranged from issues surrounding the online pharmacy acquired by Amazon, PillPack and home delivery of pharmaceuticals, to the challenges surrounding temperature and humidity from climates around the world – even mentioning patients’ bathroom medicine cabinets. Chairman Dr Bishara opened in asking: “How do we ensure the safety of medicines in mail order pharma shipping?”

A delegate in the audience suggested that: “Every pharmaceutical product needs to be monitored. The high temperatures of Saudi Arabia and Arizona and the low temperatures of Canada and Vermont have a profound effect on these medicines.

Overall, the importance of effective management of the pharma supply chain was made clear. One guest noted that “approximately 30 per cent of scrapped pharmaceutical products owe to failures in the supply chain.”

Meanwhile, another delegate argued that there was still much room for improvement. “Very few people ever question whether they were even measuring the right temperatures,” he said. “Meanwhile 90 per centof the time a temperature is measured, there is very little information as to where these measurements were made.”

Breaks for networking

During networking breaks, however, delegates repeatedly noted the effectiveness through which FlyPharma US had cultivated an atmosphere in which networking was facilitated with particular acumen. Chandu Talla, CEO of the Hyderabad-based ShipYo, an international courier for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry, commented: “FlyPharma connects the dots between logistics and life sciences professionals, creating a more intelligent networking platform for professionals in the life sciences, logistics and pharmaceutical industries, from across the globe.”

Finally, in concluding the event, delegates were given the opportunity to take a site tour of Miami International Airport and LATAM Cargo’s refrigerated pharma facilities. The tour not only offered attendees an authentic insight into the workings of one of the US’s largest airports, but it also acted as the perfect end to the FlyPharma Conference US 2018.