May 17, 2020

A prescription for the future

Artificial intelligence
Catherine Sturman
3 min
Since the first pharmacy opened in the 1700s, advances in medicine have transformed how we live and manage our health. We are living longer and conditio...

Since the first pharmacy opened in the 1700s, advances in medicine have transformed how we live and manage our health. We are living longer and conditions that were once terminal are now manageable through innovation in medication and the development of drugs.

One area that hasn’t changed so dramatically however is in the area of repeat prescriptions, and how we collect and manage our medication. Almost half of the population are on repeat prescriptions, but for the majority the process to get their medicines is time-consuming and inconvenient. Booking an appointment with your GP, getting a paper slip, finding the time to go to a pharmacy, and queuing up and waiting to receive the same medication month-after-month? The customer deserves more.

Technology has already transformed industries from retail and entertainment to travel and leisure, but it is now starting to make a significant mark on healthcare. From AI doctors and at-home blood tests to online pharmacies and digital therapeutics, the health industry is finally undergoing a profound positive disruption – and its impact is giving power to individuals to access care more easily and conveniently, and helping to ease the strain on an overburdened NHS.

While major breakthroughs in medicine like new drugs tackling problem conditions or artificial intelligence being used to predict the onset of disease will rightly attract headlines, one major area of transformation is in pharmacy.

As patients use personal healthcare devices to gain greater control of their health in the coming decades, online pharmacies will be ideally placed to handle their needs, while community pharmacies will remain crucial for acute healthcare management.

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With the adoption of the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), managing long-term prescriptions and tracking patient adherence can now be done online. And according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, it already “saves GPs time, helps to give patients a better, more seamless experience and ensures every pound of taxpayer money is being spent effectively”.

At Pharmacy2U, which was a founding partner to the NHS Electronic Prescription Service, the company seeks to remove the hassle associated with repeat prescriptions by centrally dispensing millions of medicines directly to the doors of NHS patients for free. At its dispensing facility in Leeds, it works to dispense more than 500,000 medicines to patients each month, reducing the time being spent by GPs on filling out paperwork and making it easier for patients – especially those with reduced mobility or with hectic lifestyles – to get their medicines.  

A healthcare centred around the patient is the future of the NHS and the acceleration in the rate of personalisation is paving the way for truly preventative healthcare, but we have barely scratched the surface. Like everything else in the future, the healthcare service will have to adapt to thrive.

Mark Livingstone is the CEO of Pharmacy2U, and on a mission to improve patient access to healthcare and relieve the strain on the NHS. Previously he helped to transform how we watch movies as a co-founder and CEO of LOVEFiLM, and food delivery as a founding investor of Graze.

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Jun 22, 2021

Bachem turns 50 - a timeline

3 min
As Bachem turns 50, we take a look at the company's history

Bachem, a supplier to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. We take a look at the Swiss company's history.  

1971 - beginnings

Bachem is founded by entrepreneur Peter Grogg in Liestal, a small town near Basel in Switzerland. Grogg started the firm with just two employees, and with a focus on peptide synthesis - peptides are composed of amino acids that have a variety of functions treating health conditions such as cancer and diabetes. 

1977 - 1981 - early growth

Bachem moves its headquarters to the Swiss town of Bubendorf, with eight employees. In 1978 the company produces peptides for use in medicines for the first time. In 1981 production capacity triples and the workforce grows to 150. 

 1987 - 1996 - worldwide expansion

The company expands into the US with Bachem Bioscience, Inc. in Philadelphia. To strengthen its presence in Europe, Bachem opens sales and marketing centres in Germany in 1988. 

Further sales centres open in France in 1993. By 1995 the company employs 190 people. In 1996 it acquires the second largest manufacturer of peptides in the world and forms Bachem California with a site in Torrance. 

 1998 - 2003 - Bachem goes public

Bachem company goes public and lists shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Further acquisitions include Peninsula Laboratories, Inc, based in California, and  Sochinaz SA, a Swiss-based manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients.  By 2001, the company has 500 employees and sales reach 141 million CHF.

In 2003 the organisation is given a new legal holding structure to support its continued growth, which remains in place to this day. 

2007 - 2013 - acquisitions

Bachem acquires a brand by Merck Biosciences for ready-to-use clinical trial materials and related services. 

In 2013, together with GlyTech, Inc. Bachem announces the development of a new amino acid that can help to treat multiple sclerosis, with a world market of more than $4 billion. 

In 2015 it acquires the American Peptide Company (APC), which becomes integrated into Bachem Americas. 

2016 - 2019 - a global leader

In 2016 the group opens a new building dedicated to R&D projects and small series production in Bubendorf. With a total of 1,022 employees, the workforce exceeds the 1,000 mark for the first time in the company’s history. Sales are over the 200 million mark for the first time at 236.5 million CHF.
Bachem expands into Asia with the establishment of a new company in Tokyo called Bachem Japan K.K. 

By 2019 Bachem has a growing oligonucleotide portfolio - these are DNA molecules used in genetic testing, research, and forensics. It is hoped this will become a significant product range in the future. 

2020 - COVID-19

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachem secures its supply of active ingredients, and even increases it in critical areas. Sales exceed the 400 million Swiss franc mark for the first time, and  272 new employees are hired.  

2021 - a milestone anniversary

Bachem celebrates its 50th anniversary and position as a global leader in the manufacture of peptides. While it  remains headquartered in Bubendorf, the company employs 1,500 people at six locations worldwide. In the next five years there are  plans to continue expanding. 

Commemorating the company's anniversary, Kuno Sommer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "Bachem's exceptional success story from a small laboratory to a global market leader is closely linked to Peter Grogg's values, and has been shaped by innovation, consistent quality and cost awareness, as well as by entrepreneurial vision."

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