As the pandemic broke out globally, Teva api quickly mobilized its people and its resources to navigate the challenges presented and keep business going. As Liran Nagar, Teva api Global Supply Chain Hub Leader, described, “There was no precedent for this. In my 16 years in supply chain, I’ve never encountered an emergency on such a grand, global scale.”
‘Situation rooms’ were fast established to align and guide all Teva and Teva api sites globally, and each country set up its own room to deal with requirements at a local level.
Nagar, who represented the Supply Chain team in the global situation room, explains how the portfolio team were notified about the APIs related to potential COVID-19 treatments, mainly in the field of muscle relaxants. These products would possibly be able to help patients across intensive care units worldwide.
They evaluated how they could fast-track and increase production to be able to help global efforts to stem the pandemic. Nagar says “there was an attitude of ‘let’s do it’ – people became emotionally involved and were working 24/7 to get things done and make a difference”.
Tears of gratitude from the Spanish government
Demands for these products started rolling in. One night, Nagar received a call from a colleague based in Spain, with a request from the country’s Prime Minister for one of these products.
He immediately called the Italy site where this product was being produced to see if there were any spare batches available. Luckily, there were. With an extremely short lead time of two weeks (the usual is 3-4 months), the team got the product dispatched and sent to Spain.
When Nagar called his contact back to tell him the good news about the product, he said that he could literally feel the tears in his eyes.
A risk worth taking
Supply Chain usually operates according to demand. Demand is analyzed, active ingredients are produced, and sales are made. But uncertain times often necessitate a break from the mold, for rules to be ‘broken’.
Ravi Vasanth, Global Supply Chain Hub Leader, explains how one particular product that produced in Croatia was in low demand in early 2020. However, as soon as the pandemic broke out, there was talk about it perhaps being able to contribute to an antibiotic to help treat COVID patients.
Despite the fact that demand hadn’t yet risen, and it wasn’t known what would be with this product, the supply chain team didn’t want to wait. They assessed production capabilities and took the chance. By Q2, they had built up a fair amount of stock. And that’s exactly when demand started coming in.
The risk was worth taking and it paid off.
A cry for help from Belgium
In March, Teva api received an inquiry directly from the Belgian government expressing an urgent need for anesthetic products. At the time, Belgium were experiencing a high ratio of mortality per size of the population, so levels of stress were high.
Yehuda Meyer, the account manager who dealt with this request, describes how the government official was practically crying. “He said, ‘You need to help us, people are dying over here’.”
Yehuda immediately acted. Within 72 hours, a solution was provided to the government to support this urgent lifesaving request. Two products from Teva api’s portfolio were to be immediately dispatched from Teva api’s Mexico and Italy sites to the pharma companies in Belgium who were going to produce the final dosage.
As Yehuda explains, “We always talking about one of our main values being ’patients first’ but it’s not every day you get to see this face on. There was a very strong feeling in this case that every phone call, every email, and every action we took, was for the sole purpose of saving patients’ lives.