•Pharmaceutical supply chains to become more agile & patient-centric
•SLCPI to continue advocating towards a sustainable pricing mechanism
•SLCPI calls for ethical practices in the pharmaceutical industry
•Digitisation and emerging technologies to impact pharmaceuticals
30th December 2020: The Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) reiterated their commitment towards ensuring the availability of efficacious, safe and good quality medicines to the general public, in the incoming year. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Country into lockdown earlier this year, many industries, including Pharmaceuticals, found themselves facing multiple challenges, which inevitably turned into valuable lessons for the year ahead.
Member companies of SLCPI were forced to act quickly to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicine. They witnessed their business models change in real-time and at an unprecedented pace, which prompted the collaboration of various stakeholders to ensure that patients were always given priority.
From supply chain disruptions to the adaptation of new technology, SLCPI as an organisation is fully geared to face the year ahead and has identified several key areas that are seen as essential if the industry remainssustainable in the long run.
Creating a resilient and responsive supply chain
Locally and globally, one of the biggest lessons learnt during the pandemic for Pharma-companies was managing pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions in response to COVID-19. With sudden changes to air routes and temporary interruptions to sea freight earlier this year, many companies had to formulate contingency plans to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicine to the market. SLCPI member companies were quick to respond with critical adjustments made to its business processes, which resulted in a more agile and patient-centric supply chain.
Establishing effective communication across all departments; reaching out to principals from the very start of the lockdown to ensure that there was adequate inventory; and, working closely with government authorities was an essential element in creating a resilient supply chain.
Throughout this process, priority was given to patients’ with NCDs’ and essential medicine. SLCPI is thankful for members who worked tirelessly to ensure that adequate stocks of essential medicines were made available to patients and hospitals.
Towards a sustainable pricing mechanism – will 2021 be the year?
Another top priority for the Chamber in the coming year is the implementation of a fair pricing mechanism,to ensure the availability of efficacious, safe and good quality medicines, medical devices and borderline products to the general public.
At present, the Government and regulators depend on ad-hoc price controls on medicine and pharmaceuticals to keep prices in check. This mechanism has proven to be unsustainable in the long run.
Presently, the National Medicine Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka (NMRA) has imposed a price ceilingon 73 molecules with the intention of making these medicines more affordable and accessible to patients.
The lack of a proper mechanism for the regulation of prices along with high regulatory fees has only negatively impacted the industry, which is already burdened by fragile market conditions owing to COVID-19 and a depreciating rupee, making importing drugs more expensive.
“What we need right now is a rational mechanism that is simple & workable. Pharmaceutical Pricing is complex as we are dealing with medicines, patients and the country’s healthcare needs. It is essential to take a collaborative approach between the industry and regulators on the best way forward” stressed SLCPI Vice President Sanjiva Wijesekera.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that strong pharmaceutical pricing policies in countriescan improve pharmaceutical products’ affordability when carefully planned, carried out, and regularly checked and revised according to changing conditions (WHO guideline on country pharmaceutical pricing policies, 2020).
Ethics in the Pharma Industry
Essential to the Pharma Industry’s sustainability is the implementation of an ethics framework, to maintain standards and uniformity in the industry. The Chamber recognises the need for self-regulation, which is pivotal to address non-ethical practices in the healthcare industry. SLCPI is committed to working with stakeholders within the medical fraternity to promote ethical marketing, prescribing medicines, and creating awareness on a subject that impacts the image of the healthcare industry as a whole.
Over the years, SLCPI has hosted workshops and courses to promote ethical pharmaceutical practices among pharmaceutical representatives to ensure they are well trained on the rules, regulations and industry codes. Meanwhile, several SLCPI member companies have gone as far as to provide training to pharmacists on dispensing medicines to customers.
“The focus in the year ahead is to work with doctors and healthcare professionals to standardise the behaviour of medical representatives, minimise complaints received by hospitals and collaborate with governmental partners to implement and action, an ethics framework,” said SLCPI Vice President Sanjiva Wijesekera.
What does the future hold?
COVID – 19 has been a defining year for the industry, forcing companies in all sectors to accelerate the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interaction and their internal operations by three to four years (Mckinsey, 2020).
Vice President of SLCPI Sanjiva Wijesekera says that emerging technologies are transforming the pharmaceutical sector, and members are integrating new technology in their day to day operations.
“The pharma industry is striving to maintain a balance between the need for novel medicinal drugs, improved operational efficiencies, and innovation in areas such as precision medicine, wearables, and digital therapeutics—all of which can directly impact the pharma value chain,” said SLCPI Vice President Sanjiva Wijesekera.
With a rapidly ageing population and rise in non-communicable diseases (NCD) in Sri Lanka, the demand for pharmaceuticals and medical care too is increasing.
“SLCPI is committed to its vision of making available quality medicines for all Sri Lankans, and we need to enhance our systems to ensure that we make this possible. At a consumer level, there is also more that can be done to educate the public about the impact that their lifestyle choices can have on the quality of life. By adopting a holistic strategy that addresses all stakeholders, I believe that we can arrive at a truly progressive outcome for all,” Wijesekera added.
About SLCPI: SLCPI
serves as the representative of over 60 members who account for more than 80% of the private pharmaceutical industry, spanning manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers. These stakeholders supply Sri Lankan patients with 800 molecules from 364 manufacturers from across the world.
For media inquiries on Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry, please contact: Cathrina Chang | firstname.lastname@example.org | T: 0117444166; Ext: 103 / M: +94766324354