Pharma’s new normal – innovation and collaboration : Sharad Tyagi, Managing Director, Boehringer Ingelheim – ET HealthWorld


Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld spoke to Sharad Tyagi, Managing Director, Boehringer Ingelheim India and President OPPI, to know more about the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on the Pharma supply chain and how the industry is geared to innovate digitally in the new normal.

  1. How have you been able to manage the supply chain during the lockdown?
    In the initial days of Covid, there was an abrupt disruption in the supply chain with transporters going off, labours not being there and a lot of red zones/areas as per government directives. So, it seemed extremely difficult to get the supply chains going but as things moved on and eased in April and then in May the industry took a lot of conscious efforts ensuring that the supply lines are running. I believe that except for first few days or a couple of weeks, with a lot of support from government departments, agencies, state bodies, transporter associations. We have been able to ensure that supplies have been kept running to all stockists and retailers. A huge role has been played here by associations of retailers, chemists, pharmacists and retailers who have actually played a stellar role in ensuring that supplies/ medicines are kept available.

Crisis brings out the best in people. Learnings from a crisis.
Things that one always thought was not going to be possible, not feasible, when you have a crisis you actually start doing the things you thought were not possible. One of the biggest learnings that we had is that in a crisis like situation, a lot of innovation and new thoughts come in.

Secondly, no matter how well you are prepared with the business continuity plan, a huge crisis like this will always test you. You can never anticipate it to the full extent that how badly the crisis hits the business continuity plans. But those companies which had much more robust plans, especially those who are prepared for the digital era are ahead in this crisis.

I personally believe that in the recovery phase the government should be focused on allowing every citizen, every individual in the country to be able to have themselves tested so that anyone that has a doubt can be assured once a covid test is done, and can get proper treatment if required. At the current moment we know that there is a lot of pressure and the crisis is full blown, but as we go into recovery phase, this kind of assurance should be there.
The future of Pharma in the new normal
As a result of this crisis and in the new normal pharma industry all around the world will see two major changes – there will be a lot of innovation, not just in the development of drugs or vaccines but in the way the industry interacts with its stakeholders whether it is governments or patients or doctors, there will be a lot of innovation and of course digital is going to be a part of it.

The other change that will happen is that the industries will collaborate much more and this collaboration will be within the industry, companies collaborating with each other and as well as with the government and stakeholders. The focus and realization has dawned on the industry that innovation and collaboration is the key, as a result of this crisis.
Where will healthcare be positioned in the new normal?
After the COVID crisis, people and government will realize how important healthcare is. We have all been very focused on economy and the traditional ways of measuring success, economy, well-being all that is going to change in my opinion. People will start realizing that no country can have a true sense of well-being and happiness unless the health of the citizens are paramount. The pharma industry can play a key role here, in helping to shape the right policies with the governments with partnerships with them as well as ensuring that the right kind of products and solutions are found so that people can all be healthy and be better prepared for any such crisis that might come up in future.





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