Business Transformation in Healthcare post COVID-19: From Recovery to Discovery (Part 1)

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected all business sectors, and the pharmaceutical industry is certainly no exception. We are fortunate to have had an opportunity to interview three leaders of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PReMA), a non-profit organization with 37 companies whose operations are related to the research and development of new and innovative medicines, as well as the provision and dissemination of these medical treatments. We focused especially on the business changes and operational direction after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Khun Boyd Chongphaisal, the President of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PReMA)

Khun Kevin Peters, the Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PReMA)

Dr. Armin Wiesler, the Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PReMA)

On this occasion, we have discussed about the business changes and operation direction after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q1: What is your perspective on how the pharmaceutical industry has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Khun Boyd: The spread of the coronavirus has made it essential for us to review and update our business continuity plan. Patients’ lives are our first priority: We focused first and foremost on the question of how patients could be treated continuously as more and more countries close their borders and more businesses stop their operations. Therefore, we place primary importance on the management of global supply chains. We bore all increased costs related to finding new channels to bring medicine to doctors and ensure the presence of sufficient medical supplies to treat all patients continuously. We also dedicated effort to providing and supporting treatment for doctors themselves to maximize their ability to care for patients comprehensively. Another positive impact is that the general public has become more aware of their own health and the precautions necessary for preventative care. Additionally, our industry has adapted our day-to-day work to take place under safe conditions, such as asking all employees to work from home in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

Dr. Armin: First of all, the safety of our people is our top priority. We have been concerned about the safety of our employees and have taken comprehensive measures, such as implementing a Work from Home Policy. Moreover, we ensured a hyper-focus on our Supply Chain system to ensure that our patients can get the medications they need. Although the closure of countries has impacted transportation systems globally, we have maintained our ability to deliver medicines to our patients without interruptions. In addition, we have all learned from this crisis – not only for today, but also for the future. Amid this crisis, we are able to have interactions with our customers, although not in the traditional way. We have refined and applied new techniques, such as conducting remote seminars and arranging virtual conferences. We are open-minded towards these changes and adopt new technologies to engage with our customers. We have learnt many things during the crisis. Challenges make us stronger and make us grow. Our industry will apply these learnings for the years to come.

Khun Kevin: For me, first of all, I would like to express my admiration to the many doctors, nurses, and public health workers who have been working to make Thailand one of the best countries in limiting the coronavirus impact. This virus is truly a global challenge and therefore global collaboration is truly key to ensure we can overcome the pandemic. Many of our member companies are collaborating and working with each other, with governments and organizations around the world to try and develop vaccines and medicines which will help beat this virus. We have been supporting the government and organizations here in Thailand to support all their efforts not only in managing the outbreak here and hopefully helping prevent a second wave but also to continue to ensure the health and wellbeing of existing patients in Thailand. I have seen the employees of our member companies playing an incredible role in supporting this goal and overcoming tremendous barriers and obstacles in the midst of this crisis.