May 17, 2020

Marken delivers solutions across the globe for the life sciences industry

Marken
healthcare
Supply Chain
Supply Chain
Admin
4 min
Marken delivers solutions across the globe for the life sciences industry
To remain a world leader in supply chain logistics for 35 years, it takes determination, experience, the right team, and continuous innovation, all of w...

To remain a world leader in supply chain logistics for 35 years, it takes determination, experience, the right team, and continuous innovation, all of which Marken has no shortage.

By integrating depot and logistics services into solutions that extend the reach of clinical trials to even the most remote regions of the world, Marken has bridged the distance between the patient and the essential resources of life science companies.

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“Over the last four years, we have continually remained ahead of our competition,” said Wes Wheeler, CEO of Marken, citing technology, investments and personalized services as the driving factors during a recent interview. 

Having been in the business of operating facilities and companies for over 35 years, Wheeler knows more than just a thing or two about successfully running an organization. With GlaxoSmithKline and Exxon Mobile on his impressive resume, Wheeler was initially attracted to join Marken because of its positive reputation, global positioning and efforts for expansion.

These were also influencing factors for Ariette van Strien to join Marken, CCO, and Dan Bell, VP for Regulatory Compliance and Technical Affairs.

“The initial attraction was the potential, and the continued attraction is the success that we have,” said van Strien, whose primary responsibility is to drive Marken forward with the right clients.

“Marken is the best company around for specialized logistics, and I wanted to work for the company at the top of the list and apply my own knowledge,” said Bell.

RELATED TOPIC: Is supply chain to blame for the recent Ecoli outbreak?

All three executives take pride in working for a specialized logistics and supply chain provider that is solely dedicated to pharma and the life sciences industry. Identifying themselves as a vital link to transport pharmaceuticals to patients, Marken as an organization plays an important role within the clinical research industry for supply chain services related to drug development and disease control.

With over 50,000 temperature-controlled shipments each month, and a staff of 600+ individuals across the globe, how does one company answer the needs of a global population while consistently advancing amidst a hyper-competitive market?

Step 1: Pursue innovation

Marken constantly reviews technology and new services to ensure they are meeting the needs of clients and the industry trends..

Marken consistently and constantly evaluates the technology of the market’s packaging solutions. As a global provider, entering geographic locations with high or inconsistent temperature ranges can pose a threat to the quality and efficacy of materials being shipped.  It’s important to seek out packaging solutions that offer longer duration of temperature stability as well as higher payload capacity.

In order to maintain the stability of drugs, blood samples and other biologic materials, thermo-isolating materials are integrated into specialty outer packaging so that clients can rest assured knowing their materials will sustain their temperatures for longer periods of time without interruption.

“More efficient insulating materials used in thermal packaging also allows for a higher payload by placing more product in less boxes. This can maintain or reduce shipping costs,” said Bell.

Significant investments have also been made to internal IT systems. With two main software platforms—Marken Solo and Marken Maestro—managing the inventory of drugs and tracking shipments is truly state of the art.

RELATED TOPIC: How Pharma Supply Chains Need to Change for the Future

“Managing shipments from start to finish is critical, not just to us but to our clients as well,” added Bell. “Today’s technology includes integration of remote GPS devices into the IT systems.”

Bell explains that Marken incorporates GPS tracking systems to remotely monitor not just the location of a shipment, but the environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, pressure, shock, and vibration as well.

“We are constantly looking for what’s going to make our clients’ lives easier, giving them the assurance that their shipments are being handled in an appropriate manner,” said Bell.

“In the case of software, Marken and our clients have complete visibility both in real time and in terms of metrics,” he added. “Both of our systems allow us to extract data and make quicker, more meaningful decisions about our operations.”

While the pharmaceutical industry in general is behind in integrating the latest technology trends, Marken separates itself from competition by maintaining the leadership role in driving the industry forward to offer the best services possible.

“We want to make sure that Marken remains ahead of the curve, and using technology allows us to make smart decisions and deliver the best value,” concluded Bell.

Marken is a leader in direct to patient shipments for the pharmaceutical industry so that shipments can be handled without compromising a clinical trial protocol...To check out the entire story on Healthcare Global, click here.

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Apr 30, 2021

The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone

covid-19vaccine
vaccinesupply
Supplychain
Blockchain
Jonathan Colehower
5 min
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
Jonathan Colehower, CEO at CargoChain, describes the COVID-19 vaccine distribution challenges impacting every country, organisation and individual...

While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined. 

Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.  

Production capacity 

Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short. 

Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification. 

The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.

It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.

Distribution requirements

It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.

For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.  

The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.

Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.

Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.

Disconnected information systems 

While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration. 

A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.

By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.

Political influence and social equality 

As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.

In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.  

However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.

Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution. 

The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.

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