Conversation about COVID-19 Supply Chain

March 23, 2020
Dr. Khalid Shah is responsible for pharmaceutical and biological operations, manufacturing and supply chain of Exelixis’ clinical and commercial products in the US and around the globe. He is also responsible for all aspects of CMC and development for new molecule candidates once selected by discovery. His organization takes these molecules from discovery and into clinical development, through the clinical trial process and into then into commercialization. His broad end-to-end oversight has allowed him to assess all areas of risk relative to the COVID-19 situation.

In February 2020, Dr. Shah assembled a task force to address all supply concerns in light of early reports of the virus. The initial focus was on any materials that might be manufactured in China such as raw materials. More recently as the virus spread and starting to impact more broadly, he refocused the task force on all CMO’s test labs, suppliers, vendors used to make Exelixis clinical and commercial products globally.

Dr. Shah views task forces as key to the company’s response, and reports that they have made important contributions to information timeliness, decision turn-around, and more. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

A critical area that needed to be monitored closely was location of inventory, logistics, freight forwarders and any issues that were impacting product movements.

Relatively speaking, on the commercial side, Exelixis has a robust supply chain with sufficient amount of inventory but continues to monitor supply carefully and look at inventory versus supply risk daily.

The clinical supply side is more complex. Exelixis is currently conducting multiple clinical trials in 150 countries around the world. These trials have thousands of patients participating and rates of patient enrollment often vary across trials, creating an inherently dynamic and variable demand. Therefore, Dr. Shah and his team must continuously maintain close communication with the key clinical partners to ensure that risk is being monitored very closely.

Among the factors that have helped Dr. Shah and his colleagues maintain productivity while sheltered in place are:

    Corporate communications plan for employees to keep them well informed and to minimize rumors or misinformation.

  • Focus on the health and safety of employees – provide specific domestic and international travel guidance.
  • Functioning video conferencing system.

Ironically, Dr. Shah noted that employees tend to work harder from home because they often participate in calls or video conferences back to back, so it’s very important that they don’t experience burn out. It’s widely and continuously encouraged that people take breaks in order to exercise, unwind and destress.

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