Managing Consultant at PharmaFlow, Hedley Rees, has been commissioned by WILEY to write the upcoming book: Transforming the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain.
It has been twelve years since WILEY published Hedley’s first book, Supply Chain Management in the Drug Industry: Delivering Patient Value for Pharmaceuticals and Biologics.
The many questions raised on possible supply chain mismanagement during COVID-19 open the door to a nuanced assessment of the pharmaceutical supply chain, and the industrial model that creates them.
Hedley said “This a giant vote of confidence from a US-based global academic publisher. I relish the challenge ahead and am confident that the book will be of value to WILEY’s target readers in pharmaceutical science and industry, including graduate level students, researchers, and professionals.”
This is a taster from the preface:
With this book I’ve endeavored to bring fresh thinking and perspective to building, managing, and improving pharmaceutical supply chains. In so doing, my fervent and enduring aim is to help catalyze disruptive innovation in this globally important industry. Although new to pharma, the approach recommended is not actually novel in any way. Nearly every other industry sector uses, at least to some degree, the principles I will outline here for you. Ultimately, businesses only survive in the long term by consistently delivering value for money to those using their products. The pharmaceutical industry has been delinquent on this score for many a year.
You may be surprised to learn that this is not my first attempt.
In 2011, Supply Chain Management in the Drug Industry: Delivering Patient Value for Pharmaceuticals and Biologics was published by Wiley. That book had excellent reviews, but as you would expect, the established system that was the pharmaceutical industry then, just as it is today, did not heed the cautions. Changing tack to an easier to understand book, I used Amazon CreateSpace (now Amazon KDP) to self-publish a follow up book titled: Find It, File It, Flog It: Pharma’s Crippling Addiction and How to Cure it. I resorted to giving the drug development and commercialization processes a funny name, Find It, File It, Flog It, and semi-ridiculing the notion of scientists discovering blockbuster drugs in the dead of night, surrounded by test tubes, Bunsen burners and other apparatus involved in deep chemistry. The audiences were always polite. No one challenged me on what I said, although there may well have been skepticism underneath.
As it turned out, for the second time, neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the world outside of it were ready to seek out the messages.
Putting my thinking cap on again in late 2018, I decided that a conference workshop might get the messages out further and wider. This is the summary of the event:
“On May 8th, 2019, a group of clinicians, patients, representatives of relevant charities, experts in product development, legal, regulatory and supply chain specialists gathered in Wales, with the aim of examining that claim, based on facts and evidence.
The day was organized in workshop format, and the day’s session was titled “MEDICINES FOR THE 21st CENTURY: Safe, Better, Cheaper”. It involved in-depth dialogue and transfer of knowledge, over three panel sessions, between invited attendees and panel members, considering issues and opportunities in relation to safe medicines, better medicines, and cheaper medicines.
Proceedings over the day were recorded on video, and live polling was used to collect inputs from those in attendance.”
In the white paper I collated following the conference, the suggestions below stood out like sore thumbs:
- Set up multi-disciplinary education.
- Teaching children in schools about meds, what they cost, how they’re produced, the importance of taking them correctly, and the impact when patients don’t do so.
- Educating patients regarding the medicines they use rather than prescribing and then the patient looking at the information slip that comes in the box.
Yes, of course, that’s it! The pharmaceutical industry was effectively a big black box and those inside were happy for it to stay that way. In counter, it seemed to me at least, that the world needed multi-level education on the fundamental principles and processes that apply to the development, manufacture, and distribution of drugs. This has, for so long, been a no-go area.
That set me on a course aimed at developing a virtual education program for university students’ studying relevant degree subjects. Fortune then smiled on me, as not long after I was contacted by the careers department from the School of Applied Sciences at a university, just along the road from me in Wales, the University of South Wales (USW). It has been run as a pilot program and feedback has been received. It went down well.
Then, as if we needed reminding, the SARS-CoV-2 enigma broke. Amongst the unfolding fear and confusion, supply chain questions began to emerge from unexpected quarters, not normally associated with such matters. Almost overnight, a new audience searching for honest answers to the conundrums they had observed sprung up. In response, at the beginning of January 2022, I started a Substack titled Inside Pharma, which was well received by subscribers. Inside Pharma attracted the attention of the editor of my first book, Jonathan Rose, who asked if I would be interested in writing a second book. If you are reading this, I was, and hopefully you find what you are looking for in what follows.
Hedley Rees, September 2023
[i] The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, Gower House Publishing, June 2012.