Novartis leans on CMOs for ops gains

If you're keen on Lean and want to tighten your supply chain, look for Lean-leaning partners. It helps when you speak the same language, says Rainer Beck, manager for external supply relationships at Novartis.

Tighter integration with contract manufacturers is increasingly important to drugmakers as they turn to service providers earlier--during drug development, for example--and more frequently to squeeze savings out of operations.

A "very, very important thing" is the agreement between partners to strive for benefits for each, he says in Pharma IQ. Both parties will have to make investments. Without an agreement in place that stipulates benefits, investment funds will be difficult to obtain.

Openness also is important, says Beck, repeating what has become a mantra for collaboration attempts in an industry trying to shake free of its closed and proprietary-oriented culture. Openness must extend beyond communication within the collaboration to a willingness on both sides to accept change.

Novartis is currently running at least three pilots. Beck says he anticipates savings potential of about 1 to 5 percent on operational costs. He notes that CMOs have been "very interested" in participating in the pilots.

He looks for reliability in pilot partners. Supplier performance should be above 80 percent in the quantity and on-time delivery categories, he says.

- see the interview