During these unprecedented times, the pharma industry has worked in an integrated manner and has continued to operate with vigour to keep the nation afloat. Logistics Insider on 11th May organized an e-meet “Pharma Logistics & COVID-19” powered by Cargo service Centre in association with V-xpress to put some light on the current situation and ground reality of the Pharma Industry.   

The e-meet gave an opportunity to the supply chain professional to connect from the comfort of their homes and saw a participation of more than 270 delegates.

Mr Yashpal Sharma, MD, Skyways Group while moderating the e-meet begin by mentioning some noteworthy facts on the Pharma industry and its current situation during the pandemic. He said, “Pharmaceutical advancements have been extremely critical on this planet over the last 3000 years and has made huge advancements for the improvement of lives of humans by a huge degree. Today, India has become the pharmacy of the world. We want to become a global supply chain hub for the pharmaceutical and not only for the advanced market but also for the emerging nations.”

He further adds, “The COVID pandemic, which has locked down the whole world, has also brought most industries across the world to a grinding halt. Even at these times, the pharma industry and healthcare systems of the world continue to show that they are prepared to deal with this pandemic.”

The challenges of the pharma industry even after being an essential service provider was one of the key points of discussion in the conference.

Mr Vickram Srivastava, Head Supply chain planning, IPCA Laboratories highlighted, “Though we were one of the essential service providers, the ground reality was different in terms of having the availability of freight forwarders and service providers for inland and domestic and of course import and export were also heavily impacted. We as generic drugs provider have had concerns with respect to keeping operations on and connecting all the critical good to the factory and from the factory to the customers.”  

Speaking on the same lines, Mr Tushar Jani, Chairman, Cargo Service Centre said, “When the lockdown was announced, we didn’t even have the time to prepare. I share Vickram’s Concern as pharmaceuticals were manufactured but there was no packing material as it was not a part of essentials. A lot of amendments came from the government in the last 30-40 days to keep essentials moving. And, that is the level of improvisation that has happened.”  

Mr N Sivasailam, Former Special Secretary Logistics who was also one of the speakers in the panel, talked about cooperative competition.  He said, “It is something that is here to stay. Everybody has seen the benefit of cooperative competition. Several people who otherwise compete in the market actually coordinated in the market, and that is a major policy that I think we need to take forward in the market.”

He further added, “At this point at the policy level the concern is to kick start all the businesses as it is realized that whole lot of industry is dependent on each other.”

Mr Vipin Vohra, Chairman, Continental Carriers Pvt Ltd, while addressing the delegates said, “At the beginning after a week of halt at the airport, it was the pharma goods that started coming through imports as well as exports. But with the corporation of everyone and with everyone working together, we reached some conclusion and goods started moving to and from the airports. We all came together to solve the issues faced and not only for own issue but for one another.”

“With the joint efforts shippers, freight forwards, government and the whole supply chain made the movement of goods efficient,” he added.

Speaking on managing the capacity of goods Mr Satish Lakkaraju, Chief Commercial Officer, Agility said, “The learning from our china’s colleague about handling the pandemic was the most important thing that we could implement immediately. We created more of Hubs and Spokes model to get into the nearest and available hubs and further from that we managed to connect to our offices to manage the capacity. Then as airlines started to operate and we could get additional capacity, we went back to our original strategy.”

Speaking on the foreseen amendments in the transportation of goods, Mr Aditya Shah, Executive Director, V-trans India said, “We are overall dependent on road and never took railways to its full potential. However, in this scenario when there are challenges on the roadside in terms of reaching the transit time, the collaboration of Railway will take care of the transit part of it. A collaborative approach is something that we are considering and I think that will be the future.”