Getting our medicines to patients

Our employees

Getting medicines to patients requires a hugely complex supply chain, with lives possibly at stake if anything goes wrong. To protect patients from unsafe medicinal products, regulatory authorities agree it is critical that “no weak link exists in the supply chain”. Octapharma places great emphasis on achieving and maintaining good distribution practice (GDP) to ensure that our patients receive Octapharma medicines of the highest quality.

Transporting biologics is no easy task. Every shipping option and route is analysed and risk assessed. We look for the most sustainable packaging and the most reliable mode of transport because each shipment of our products can be highly sensitive to potential temperature change.

Octapharma ensures that all plasma products complete their journey safely and maintain perfect quality whether in a small shipment of a few vials or a shipment of more than 10 pallets, specially packed and wrapped for the anticipated temperature range during their journey.

For example, if we ship our products during winter from Europe via the Middle East to the final destination, we know that the mode of transport has to withstand cold weather in Vienna, Austria, while the destination enjoys the summer season, in temperatures up to 40°C and more. For such instances, active and passive containers are available. These containers can stabilise the temperature. We also use various methods of applying thermofoil to insulate the goods. Most importantly, the transport chain has to be harmonised with the respective equipment. To achieve this, colleagues from several departments work closely together.

Octapharma also engages with an extensive network of third parties worldwide. While the contributions of our suppliers are crucial to our success, our internal guidelines and GDP regulations set out our expectations about quality standards.

Rute Martins, Customer Service Manager at Corporate Customer Service
Coordination is key

Managing the global supply chain for our products takes all the skill of a chess Grand Master. It requires strategic thinking at every move and the ability to anticipate the unexpected, coupled with the determination to get the products to their destination.

The success of logistics allowing a shipment to be released to the market has its roots in an extensive preparation phase, but ultimately the “green light” to release a shipment comes from the Customer Service team.

“Careful analysis, collaboration and timing are essential to guarantee delivery into patients’ hands. It is crucial that all colleagues from departments such as the Corporate

Business Planning and Allocation team, local Packaging, Material Management and Supply Chain teams, Assessment and Release, and Export teams are fully involved. It is a close and intense collaboration where everyone contributes specific skills,” says Rute Martins, Customer Service Manager at Corporate Customer Service.

Based at the Octapharma headquarters in Lachen, Switzerland, the Corporate Customer Service team, which is part of the Corporate Supply Chain Unit, is the central contact point for customers represented by local sales teams. The team, which consists of eight people, is the interface between all departments involved in the ordering process and the customer. Rute and her team handle all the orders for finished products and other enquiries coming from 115 countries around the globe. While it is a demanding and complex process, the team must ensure that every requirement is met, from the beginning until the end of the process.

Rute and her team handle all the orders for finished products and other enquiries coming from 115 countries around the globe.

Step by step
The Corporate Customer Service team follows up on every step of the process, from the first order being sent, to the batch allocation, packaging, batch release, payment confirmation and then shipment to the customer.

Every step in the supply chain is linked to another, and everyone must play their part every day to ensure that our patients receive on time Octapharma medicines of the highest quality.

It is only after all the previous steps are concluded and confirmed that the Corporate Customer

Service team gives the “Go!” to the Export department to organise the shipment to the customer. “Each individual member of each team understands that we have to deliver our medicines on time. We work together to contribute to a major and noble mission: to help hundreds of thousands of patients around the world change their lives,” Rute adds.

A successful supply chain strategy is at the core of Octapharma.

While handling this global network, our priority is – and always will be – process reliability, safety and improvement of the service levels for those who are the focus of our daily work: our patients.


Annual report

Distribution and supply chain

Woman in science