Ms. Lara Elize Itao and Mr. John Lester Ocampo of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) Storage and Distribution Department (SDD) represented the Institution in the 7th BioLogistics World Asia and Clinical Trials Festival Asia 2023 held in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore last March 15-16, 2023.
In a panel discussion on enhancing sustainability practices in shipments of biologics, Ms. Itao, together with Biocon Logistics Limited Packing Development Senior Director Mr. Saravanan Jeyabalan and Pt. Biotis Director of Operations Mr. Rakesh Yvas, discussed the most pressing sustainability issues in packaging and cold chain logistics and innovations.
The panelists discussed how they applied new technologies and policies to ensure efficiency and sustainability in maintaining the integrity of the supply chain and logistics.
According to Ms. Itao, diversity in culture, religion, and politics play a big role in the implementation of new technologies and paradigms in logistics. However, she emphasized that the current network of logistics hubs in the country ensured that only the resources necessary are spent and that wastage is minimized.
“Identifying champions for one’s advocacy is a key component in ensuring the success of government programs. There is a need to gather sufficient evidence for suitability of innovations to be implemented when proposing for new investments,” said Ms. Itao on implementing innovations.
Mr. Ocampo, along with Hetero Drugs Clinical Development & Medical Affairs (CD&MA) Senior Vice President Dr. Shubhadeep D. Sinha and Singapore Cord Blood Bank Strategy and Compliance Director Arun Prasath, shared his insights on the key challenges and considerations of Biologics Logistics in the Asia-Pacific (APAC).
Mr. Ocampo cited that the delays in procurement and delivery of products to the National Vaccine Storage Facility housed in RITM as the most pressing challenge in vaccine logistics in the country. He added that the demand of the end-users, in his case, for vaccines, has proven to be a challenge as there is no way to push the product if there is little demand for it, resulting in products reaching the end of their shelf life.
He shared that at the offshoot of the COVID-19 pandemic and the distribution of vaccines, the importance of real-time monitoring of in-transit temperature to timely mitigate temperature excursions have been more eminent. In terms of commercialization and procurement, Mr. Ocampo highlighted the importance of extensive planning to limit wastage.
On the second day of the event, Ms. Itao presented strategies to gather quality clinical safety and efficacy data of snake anti-venom. She stressed the importance of snake anti-venoms as the sole definitive treatment to snakebite envenoming, a condition classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the priority neglected tropical diseases.
She emphasized that owing to the nature of snakebite envenoming and the specificity of anti-venoms, post-marketing surveillance may be more important to anti-venoms than to other medications in the market. She also added that the benefit of saving lives still outweighs the risk of adverse reactions such as hypersensitivity, pyrogenicity and the rare occurrence of serum sickness in some snake anti-venoms.
During her presentation, she highlighted the strategies to gather data that ensure that the risk-benefit ratio of using the product does not change. This includes strengthening networks with national and regional surveillance offices, working with sentinel sites and conducting observational studies.
The Clinical Development of International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Head Tarun Saluja asked how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines is currently working on the challenges cited in Ms. Itao’s presentation, for which she answered that “both agencies, RITM and FDA, remain in close working conditions in ensuring that there are available quality and safe snake anti-venom in the country despite the scarcity of resources”
Representatives from Medigen and Aesculape showed interest on the manufacture of polyvalent anti-venoms, the presence of efficacy data of the current anti-venom used in the Philippines, and the efficient collection thereof, considering the Philippine geography.
RITM SDD remains to be the National Vaccine Storage Facility in the country that handles vaccines and biologics of the National Immunization and Rabies Prevention and Control Programs of the Department of Health. RITM continues to provide DOH with technical support in logistics and cold chain management.
by Lara Elize Itao, Storage and Distribution Department