27-28 September, Bangkok, Thailand. The Global Drug Facility’s (GDF) Annual TB Medicines Suppliers Meeting was held on September 27-28 in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was the first opportunity for GDF and its suppliers to gather in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GDF TB Medicines Suppliers Meeting brings together GDF-contracted TB medicines suppliers, quality control agents, as well as donors and GDF’s contracted procurement agent, to collectively discuss critical issues in TB medicines procurement and supply chain management, analyze results and past performance, examine challenges faced by GDF and its partners and collaboratively develop corrective actions for the future.
This year’s meeting was attended by 56 participants—including suppliers representing 22 pharmaceutical companies across 11 different countries, for the first time featuring new suppliers from Pakistan, Indonesia and Ukraine—as well as representatives from WHO’s Global TB Programme and Prequalification Team, Global Fund’s Sourcing and Quality Assurance Team, and GDF’s procurement agent (IDA) and quality assurance (QA) partners (Intertek, SGS). Additionally, Uzbekistan’s National TB Programme (NTP) and India’s National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP) gave presentations on their countries’ partnership with GDF and the important role that GDF has played in their citizens’ access to TB medicines.
GDF Model has evolved to an end-to-end market management approach with oversight of the entire TB product life cycle, promoting access amidst changing markets and needs. Therefore, GDF is providing proactive, forward-looking bundled services: procurement with technical assistance and capacity building; global TB stakeholder coordination; risk sharing with suppliers; innovative logistics, and a collaborative approach with partners such as TB Procurement & Market-Shaping Action Team (TPMAT), WHO GTB, WHO PQ, WHO EML, TGF, USAID, NGOs, NTPs, civil society, researchers, and implementers.
Besides listening to plenary presentations on the performance of GDF and its procurement and QA partners, as well as on updates to GDF and Global Fund QA policies and WHO technical guidelines, participants also took part in several working groups, discussing common challenges faced by suppliers and tabling potential solutions.
In spite of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other political and economic disruptions on TB programming, TB medicines production and global freight management, GDF and its partners have had a number of significant achievements in 2021-2022, including:
- Continual increase in the number of GDF-eligible suppliers
- Expedited introduction of child-friendly formulations in a growing number of countries
- Sharply decreasing prices for new SLD regimens, including a 34% decrease in BPaL regimen prices since its approval in 2019
- Better coordination between TB stakeholders—including improved alignment across multiple guidelines and lists of medicines—via the work of the GDF-hosted TB Procurement and Market-Shaping Access Team and tools such as the TB Medicines Dashboard.
- Greatly improved quality assurance outcomes, with far fewer supplier deviations detected during pre-shipment inspection.
- On Time in Full (OTIF) access to SLDs and FLDs by clients consistently above GDF’s target of 75%
- A decrease in the median delivery lead time for products in GDF’s Strategic Rotating Stockpile, approaching the GDF target of 90 days.
GDF noted that GDF suppliers were critical partners in achieving these outcomes and thanked them for their flexibility and commitment to ensuring an uninterrupted supply of TB medicines no matter the size of the order.
The Annual Suppliers’ Meeting provides an important opportunity for GDF and its partners to discuss these difficult issues openly and transparently, share perspectives and concerns, and, as importantly, celebrate mutual success.
In spite of the many challenges suppliers face, the Suppliers’ Meeting also emphasized the increasing number of opportunities for suppliers to contribute their voice to global TB initiatives, most notably the upcoming United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on Tuberculosis scheduled for September 2023.