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FlyPharma Conference Europe notches fourth successful year

The FlyPharma Conference Europe wrapped up for another year on 6 June, returning with an expanded roster of speakers who provided insight into all aspects of the pharmaceutical supply chain, as Ben Hargreaves finds

The event was once again hosted at the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel and the Host Partner, Brussels Airport, as always provided speakers and insight into its own experiences working directly with a number of supply chain stakeholders.

FlyPharma always aims to instigate discussions on key industry topics, such as temperature excursions or security challenges, but also aims to expand attendees’ knowledge regarding newer and more unfamiliar territory, which appeared in the conference during debates over data sharing and innovative means of encouraging this, for example through blockchain technology. Behind all of these discussions was a real desire to push the industry forward and to rectify the issues that are still existent within the developing supply chain.

As in previous years, the event took place over two days (5-6 June) and featured a range of speakers from across the industry. The first day really brought into focus the impact the pharma supply chain has on people across the world, when Christine Richard, of Amerijet International Airlines, spoke on the devastation caused to Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria that struck in September 2017, and how the company had managed to fly in pharmaceuticals despite major logistical challenges.

For many people involved, this was a life and death situation – getting in medical supplies to people was an effort of the greatest urgency. Richard explained how Amerijet, with its facilities on the island, were able to help: “As a commercial carrier, Amerijet was the first one onto the island – about 48 hours after the storm was over. We did about four to five flights per day, seven day a week, for thirteen weeks straight, bringing relief goods onto the island. After about four to five days, we started bringing in raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry so that they could start up their operations again. We also carried about 100,000 kilos of medical devices, just trying to support the pharma industry to bring out as many finished products as possible.”

This effort shows an element to the supply chain that is often not seen – its ability to react quickly to a disaster and bring about positive results, beyond any commercial interest. Efficiency of the supply chain returned again, but under a different topic, when Marrie Groeneveld, Chief Commercial Officer of SkyCell AG, highlighted just how costly temperature excursions can be to the industry.


In particular, he revealed that a conversation with a pharma company revealed it experienced 2% temperature excursions within its supply chain. This was calculated to be a €50 million cost per year for the company – not a sum of money that any company can ignore. When SkyCell pursued further research into the number of excursions experienced across the industry, the data revealed that, across 50 interviews with companies involved, they averaged at a temperature excursion rate of 8.5%. Again, demonstrating just how much work there is still to be done to secure the supply chain. >>


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