Stimulating Discussion

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-02-02-2019, Volume 43, Issue 2

A new initiative has been launched to help stimulate industry discussion on innovative tech for use across the drug supply chain.

Editor's Note: This article was published in Pharmaceutical Technology Europe's February 2019 print issue.

The pharma supply chain is notoriously complex; companies struggle with numerous inefficiencies and are required to comply with stringent regulatory requirements. According to PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) in its Pharma 2020 series of papers, the supply chain represents an important aspect of the pharma industry that needs to be overhauled to keep up with the major changes in drug products that are in the pipeline (1).

Movement from the large blockbuster pharma products to more complex therapies, as well as generic options to name a couple of changes, has meant that the pharma industry’s future supply chain needs may not be met if significant alterations are not made (1).

Within Europe, a new initiative-the European Platform on Changing Healthcare (EPOCH)-has been launched by Veratrak (a United Kingdom‑based tech company) in partnership with Tjoapack (a global contract packaging and supply chain organization) that is aimed at improving the pharmaceutical supply chain operations.

To find out more about this new project, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe spoke with Dexter Tjoa, director of corporate strategy at Tjoapack, about EPOCH and how it may be useful in stimulating discussion within the bio/pharmaceutical industry.

Educating the industry

PTE: Could you please give a brief overview of the EPOCH initiative?

Tjoa: EPOCH aims to bring together the pharmaceutical industry and is focused on educating the sector on innovative technologies and their use across the drug supply chain. EPOCH hosts a variety of content from webinars, workshops, and conferences.

Membership is free of charge, and we invite anyone to join up to gain access to the various bits of content already on the platform.

PTE: Will there be specific focus areas identified for analysis/research?

Tjoa: EPOCH will focus on one technology at a time. We aim to address themes that are topical, and which are stimulating current debate. We hope to provide factual resources, as well as educational content to further the knowledge on these technologies.


We’re currently running a blockchain theme to distil hype from reality, promote conversation around the use of this technology for the pharma industry, and discuss the benefits it could have. 

Importance of blockchain

PTE: You mentioned that blockchain is the first theme for discussion in EPOCH, why is it important to investigate the uses of this technology for the pharma supply chain?

Tjoa: Blockchain has many potential applications within the pharma supply chain, from tracking and tracing product to managing master data. There is a lot of scope and topics to talk about, and we hope to cut through a lot of the hype and present a factual image of what blockchain can do.

Blockchain technology has the potential to add value to any business working with a large supply network. It is particularly suited for the pharmaceutical industry because of the inbuilt immutability and transparency. These attributes allow for secure information distribution across numerous business partners. As a result, blockchain is ideal for use in the tracking and tracing of processes and physical goods.

Ultimately blockchain can facilitate collaboration, which will help the industry generate efficiencies and streamline operations.

Going global?

PTE: As a European initiative at the moment, are there any plans to include global community members and increase the scope of this project? 

Tjoa: Europe is an interesting melting pot of various requirements, market sizes, and market dynamics. Additionally, Europe is the second largest market for pharma products in the world. Therefore, we think that this makes it an ideal playground to test what these technologies can do in terms of scale and complexity. 

However, pharma is obviously a global industry and we welcome people from all over the world to join up and participate in EPOCH, no matter where they are geographically located.


1.    PwC, “Pharma 2020: Supplying the future-Which path will you take?” (2011).


Article Details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 31, No. 2
February 2019
Pages: 48–49


When referring to this article, please cite it as F. Thomas, “Stimulating Discussion," Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 31 (2) 2019.