Out of Adversity Comes Opportunity

Masters Speciality Pharma focuses on supplying pharmaceutical drugs to developing countries where access to treatments is limited – partnering with big pharma firms such as Novartis, Alexion and Amgen in the process. Here are some of our experiences of 2020 and thoughts for 2021.

As a global pharmaceutical company, Masters understands better than most the critical nature of getting the right treatments from anywhere in the world to the right patient to change or even save their life. This logistics challenge that has defined us as a niche pharma specialty, suddenly became the primary objective of every government in every country as Covid ripped through our lives. 2020 changed the world as we knew it.

And when we talk about change in our daily lives, we talk about the inconvenience of wearing a mask to the shops and not being able to meet a friend for lunch. Few people probably wonder how the goods we buy get there. And whilst we do not ship groceries, we often need to take even more care of our critical consignments.

To ensure that we maintain temperature control for some medicines we have had to completely rethink our packaging and modes of transport – often coming up with better and more environmentally friendly measures – as workarounds to current import and export restrictions.

We have had to develop even stronger (albeit socially distanced) relationships with regulatory bodies, life science partners, shippers, suppliers and customers to secure alternative stocks, source alternative routes and devise alternative packaging solutions. Relationships and bonds that will prove beneficial in the years to come, courtesy of extended working hours and Whatsapp.

Also, seeing colleagues and external contacts working from home, in their civvies, and adapting to a new style of working has been entertaining, particularly when children have flash mobbed meetings. In that respect, the pandemic has been a great leveller, and shown a more human side of ourselves and others that would otherwise have been hidden.

And there are the personal sacrifices. Our warehouse team have formed their own ‘bubble’ through the pandemic to minimise the risk of infection. They walk to work instead of using public transport. They have barely taken a day off sick, or indeed we have had no one with Covid-19 within this team. We have had to bend the WMS system to do what was never intended (as a result of the changes that we have had to make to packaging of each shipment) and this has had an impact on the workload and complexity of the task for the team, which they have borne with fortitude.

Overall, the one thing 2020 has shown us that we are capable of more than we realised. Covid turned our world upside down. But we found a way to commercially survive. We’ve learned that our systems need to be more flexible and we are looking to make operational and IT changes so that in future we can be better prepared.

This year has brought out the best in us. We have strengthened our teamwork. Discovered new abilities. Implemented new strategies and processes. And we have gained a huge amount of knowledge which we can use to provide a better service to current and future customers.

Out of adversity comes opportunity.