Pharma logistics is not new. Vaccines and temperature-controlled shipments have traveled on board aircraft since many years now, and various airlines have already worked together with large pharma clients to fine-tune their services. Yet, the global pandemic and the subsequent COVID-19 vaccine roll-out has highlighted pitfalls and collaboration requirements. Issues that can soon be delved into in a masterclass premiere happening this SEP21.
Pharma.Aero, the Brussels, Belgium-based non-profit organization launched in 2016 with the aim of achieving excellence across pharma supply chains, has now teamed up with the University of Antwerp (Faculty of Business Administration/Economics) and METRANS, the University of Long Beach, California, to launch the first ever international masterclass on Pharma Logistics. Its goal: sharing knowledge to ensure the best possible transport conditions, readiness, and organization of the logistics and supply chain when it comes to transporting and delivering essential medical supplies, be they Covid-19 vaccines or other therapeutic drugs. The Pharma Logistics Masterclass is planned to take place from 7-11SEP21 as a hybrid onsite-online event at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, for 50 local attendees, and an online audience. The masterclass presentations are scheduled for the afternoon to allow for international time zones. On 10SEP21, onsite visits are planned to the production facilities of the GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company in Wavre, and to BRUcure, the vaccine logistics program launched by Brussels Airport and Air Cargo Belgium. It is hoped that this initial business-academia fusion will become an annual event, held in other important pharma locations across the world in future.
How it all began
Speaking in an interview published in flows.be, Frank Van Gelder, Secretary General of Pharma.Aero, explained that the pandemic highlighted the need to bring academics and the logistics industry together: “On the one hand, you see government institutions and pharmaceutical companies seeking information from academic platforms because they specialize in data analysis. On the other hand, the industry asks us questions about the transport of pharmaceutical products. During the pandemic, a think tank was started from the University of Antwerp and Pharma.Aero, with academics, virologists, and industry experts, to provide analysis and guidelines via a blog. That was the first impetus for the masterclass.”
The Pharma Logistics masterclass will tackle three main multimodal themes: air freight for the speed of vaccine delivery and against the backdrop of limited capacity due to passenger planes being grounded, sea freight for the supply of the raw materials for the vaccines, and last mile delivery. Each area will be tackled in detail with regard to the key challenges, innovations, academic and industry insights, and available best practices. In addition, the masterclass will cover end-to-end supply pharma chain information ranging from the production, storage, and handling of life science goods, the economic and operational challenges, and an overview of pharma communities. The various topics will be presented by established speakers both from the academic community and from the pharma and logistics industries.
Who is it for?
“The Pharma Logistics Masterclass is a unique opportunity for industry professionals to gain more in-depth knowledge, as well as for academics and PhD students to obtain advanced insights into how pharmaceutical supply chains are organized and logistics processes are optimized through applied technology for the pharma and life science sector,” the press release reads. Aside from the presentations and onsite visits, the five days will also include interactive debates and workshops “for maximum cross-fertilization between academics and business partners,” flows.be reports. Frank van Gelder underlines: “Ultimately, we need to speak a common language. We want to review the know-how that we have built up from local, acute experiences within a certain national structure at an international level. In this way we want to share and exchange experiences with each other.”
The pandemic highlighted the need for this masterclass
Roel Gevaers, Dr PhD, University of Antwerp Belgium and Chairman of this international Masterclass said: “Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that the vaccines and pharma supplies will be the way to our renewed freedom. This pandemic was a perfect example why effective pharma supply chains and logistical flows are of major importance in our worldwide society. From government as from industry perspective, special attention will be paid towards the logistics of pharma for the years to come. For this reason, I am extremely excited to be chair of this interesting Pharma Logistics Masterclass – where Business meets Academics.”
Tom O’ Brien, Dr. PhD, California State University, Long Beach California USA and Deputy Director of the METRANS Transportation Consortium and Co-chair added: “The pandemic has elevated the profile of the global supply chain in ways we could not have predicted 18 months ago. Now the challenge is to tell the story of the various supply chains that make up the system of systems. Pharma Logistics is one of those. I am thrilled that we can help share some of the North American perspective on the topic, including Long Beach’s now much studied approach to vaccine rollout. The story of the logistics is in part the story of its success. Disseminating this kind of information is part of METRANS’ mission.”
Pharma.Aero is practicing what it preaches on a larger scale
The masterclass reflects Pharma.Aero’s raison d’être and is testimony to how far the organization has come in just five years, with regard to helping to set standards and bring the various supply chain players together. Frank van Gelder, Secretary General of Pharma.Aero and Co-chair, outlined: “Life science air cargo supply chain reliability and end to end visibility are the DNA of Pharma.Aero. We are excited that air cargo will kick-off the program. The importance of air cargo has been underlined in the past year amid the global Covid-19 pandemic situation with urgent global air transportation of PPE, medical supplies, and vaccines. We will connect the current business models and strategies used in the industry with data analytics and modelling designed and produced by institutions.”
Interested parties and those wishing to register for the 5-day masterclass, can find out more information here: https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/research-groups/transport-and-regional-economics/news-and-events/events-and-conferences/pharma-logistics-masterclass/
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