Bridgend, South Wales, 29th March 2021: Following the chaos and confusion during COVID-19, Hedley Rees has decided to share his deep experience of pharmaceutical production and distribution supply chains, including the much-vaunted topic of vaccine supply.
In his new book—What Patients Need to Know About Pharmaceutical Supply Chains—Hedley boils the industry down to the fundamentals. The book begins by explaining the basics of regulations, product development and supply chain management, including cold chain, in an easy-to-understand fashion. It then explains how the outdated global drug development model creates spaghetti supply chains that wrap around the globe several times—along with the potential risk of patient harm. There is a reference to a tragic event in 2007, where nine patients died, and hundreds suffered serious adverse events.
Next, Hedley introduces his own personal experiences of working as head of Bayer’s supply chain in Bridgend, South Wales. He says:
“Before blockbusters, things were very different… During my years at Bayer in the UK from 1980 to 1996, raw materials and ingredients arrived in the goods receiving bay from sister and EU-based companies. They were processed, made into dosage forms, and packaged as finished products to be sent on their way to the hospitals and pharmacies around the UK. Non-UK markets were mainly handled by shipping to other Bayer legal entities around the globe…with local presence and distribution capabilities in their own home markets. Links with customers (patients) were direct.”
The root cause of the dramatic change to today’s confused supply chains is put down to a battle for market share between two anti-ulcer drugs in the 1980s—it led to mass outsourcing of people and facilities, allowing very small companies to enter early-stage drug development. That, along with other strategic errors, led to the fragmentation we see today.
Unlike other books on the industry, however, What Patients Need to Know About Pharmaceutical Supply Chains comes up with solutions too. It traces back to the days when physicians were at the centre of drug development—when pioneers such as Jenner (smallpox vaccine), Banting (insulin), Fleming (penicillin), and Salk (polio vaccine), were leading the charge in medical breakthroughs.
Sadly, these days, physicians have to sit on the sidelines waiting to see what arrives at their door years later. We need to go back to those days, the book strongly suggests.
The final chapter talks to the modernisation initiatives that have been on the go from US FDA, and FDAs new Interim Commissioner, Janet Woodcock MD, from the early 2000s.
It also recounts the negative impact of patent law on competition, and ways to counter that by using modern, Systems Thinking concepts.
Hedley’s message for patients around the world is:
“It is my strong belief that the more you, as a patient, are informed on the workings of the machinery that will insert drugs into your body, the greater the chance of a return to former glory for the pharmaceutical industry.”
Notes to editors:
Hedley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 7734 961726.
About Hedley Rees, author of What Patients Need to Know About Pharmaceutical Supply Chains:
Hedley Rees is managing consultant at PharmaFlow Limited, a UK based consultancy specialising in operations and supply chain management within life sciences. Assignments span early stage clinical trial supply chains up to complex multi-product supply networks covering global territories. Hedley held senior positions at Bayer UK, British Biotech, Vernalis, Johnson & Johnson and OSI Pharmaceuticals.
His skill set covers the range of competencies from strategic procurement, production and inventory control, distribution logistics, information systems and improvement. As an expert in production systems design and implementation, Hedley is a zealous advocate of the regulatory modernisation frameworks of FDA’s 21st Century Modernization (Janet Woodcock MD) and the International Council for Harmonisation (ICH).
He graduated from the University of Wales as a production engineer and holds an Executive MBA from Cranfield University School of Management.
Hedley lives in Bridgend, South Wales.