As the world adapts to the uncertainty that has arisen out of the rampant spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry has been at the forefront in the fight against the virus. With continuous demand for vaccines, research on repurposed and novel medicines as well as the production of testing kits, the industry has been guiding the transition through the ‘new normal’.
COVID-19 has not only accelerated the transition to a more purposeful and inclusive environment but has taught us to re-evaluate our traditional approaches and seek solutions, which are more holistic in nature.
At Lupin, we are utilizing this opportunity to enhance our resilience and efficiency to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to patients all over the world. We are also using this opportunity to fundamentally transform our R&D, supply chain and operations.
At the onset of the crisis, we set up a centralized ‘COVID-19 Taskforce’ and adopted a three-pronged approach that focused on ensuring the continuity of supply of our life-saving drugs, assuring the health and safety of our people, and supporting frontline workers and the needy with immediate assistance but also carefully carve out what we could do to help from a therapeutic standpoint.
Over the past year, Lupin has undertaken every possible measure to ensure business continuity. We enhanced our commercial measures, focused on de-risking our supply chain and worked with customers and government agencies to maintain a consistent supply of the products and life-saving drugs, including those for the treatment of COVID-19.
We ramped up the production of key products such as Azithromycin and managed important launches like Albuterol, a vital inhalation product as well as Favipiravir, an antiviral used for the treatment of mild- to-moderate COVID-19. Due to our strong relationships with our customers and the agility of our supply chain, we were able to anticipate and plan for the initial surge in demand for products such as Oseltamivir. In addition to this, we increased our safety stock for other critical medicines in chronic areas such as cardiovascular and diabetes drugs. Recently, we entered into a voluntary license for Baricitinib from Eli Lilly and expect it to be a beneficial enabler to save lives of COVID-19 patients.
With COVID-19 impacting the ability of our field force to effectively reach doctors, Lupin invested in appropriate digital solutions to establish reliable alternate channels of engagement with health care practitioners (HCPs). All of our field force staff were equipped with remote detailing tools and digital solutions to educate HCPs about the latest therapy-area related trends and offerings. To augment marketing efforts and drive evidencebased decisions, we also partnered with leading healthcare solution providers to get real time data and advanced analytics.
During this challenging period, we built contingencies for our new product launches, focused on leveraging digital tools to market our products and stay connected with our customers, while accelerating our pace of digital transformation. We continue to explore ways, in which we can play a meaningful role in COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccine distribution tie-ups and will continue to expand our product portfolio to meet the needs of our patients in these trying times.
In line with our vision to provide accessible and affordable medicines for our global communities, it is vital for our manufacturing facilities to be operational round the clock. COVID-19 protocols were implemented and strictly enforced across all Lupin sites since March 2020.
Our supply chain and procurement teams ensured an optimal supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and sanitizing materials for our people and our facilities. We reduced the number of staff at our facilities to ensure adequate social distancing and implemented digital contact tracing measures to minimize disruption at our manufacturing sites. Additionally, a virtual workplace policy was announced for the employees who could effectively do their work from home and this became the norm for employees in non-manufacturing and non-research roles.
We also put in place multiple task forces for hospitalization, medication, and eventually vaccination of our employees and our mission was to assure every Lupinytt and their family members had access to hospital beds, oxygen, and medicines.
We significantly expanded the scope of all our employee benefits from the regular medical and term insurance cover to providing much higher levels of support for hospitalization, insurance. For families of employees that we lost to COVID-19, we came up with a comprehensive support package to secure their future, including support in areas like education of their children, ongoing medical insurance and additional financial benefits.
Across our businesses, we have conducted virtual townhalls every quarter to share our performance updates with our employees. We have also made expert guidance available to them on the health and safety measures to be followed during the pandemic. As a company, the health and well-being of our employees is the utmost priority.
The Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation (LHWRF) has worked extensively in pandemic ravaged areas of rural India to support returning migrant workers. We set up 26 stations across national highways of the country to provide food, water and medication to migrants walking to their native villages. Overall, this initiative imparted assistance to 180,108 migrants. Additionally, as trains became operational, we arranged food support at 8 major railway stations on 15 trains for 16,530 migrant workers.
We have extended our support to district administrations to provide much needed medical devices. Our recent efforts are focused on supporting government and hospitals in building COVID-care facilities as well as donating oxygen concentrators and plants across India. Additionally, we provided 1.6 million masks, more than 400,000 sanitizer bottles, around 150,000 PPE kits and more than 10,000 thermal guns for frontline workers. Further, we undertook sanitization of 5,000 doctor’s clinics across the country to warrant the safety of attending Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) and patients. Overall, Lupin, our employees and the promoter family contributed INR 16.7 crore toward COVID-19 relief efforts.
During the first wave of the pandemic, Lupin launched the ‘Jan Kovid’ helpline across Mumbai, Pune and Indore to address queries of citizens with respect to COVID-19 symptoms, details of nearby hospital, testing facilities, and to support those suffering from stress, anxiety or respiratory issues. The helpline was handled by skilled doctors.
At Lupin, we also wanted to support HCPs by providing them with platforms to alleviate their stress. The Grand finale of Doctor Sur Samrat was featured on Indian television channels and watched by more than 500,000 viewers.
In our Laboratories Grin facility in Mexico, we have made donations in kind to Foundations, which supported low income hospitals. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also initiated a donation drive aimed at supporting patients, senior citizens as well as the medical community, who were widely affected.
As the world faces complex challenges surrounding recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the prospect of an uncertain tomorrow looms large, at Lupin we remain committed to providing access to quality healthcare at affordable prices.