The Global Drug Facility (GDF) held its first ever annual TB diagnostics suppliers meeting in Lisbon, Portugal on 5-6 June 2018. The event was attended by manufacturers of TB diagnostics and laboratory supplies, freight forwarding and logistics companies, Ministry of Health representatives from Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique and Pakistan, the WHO Global TB Programme and Global Fund, alongside GDF teams. The meeting served as a valuable platform to strengthen collaboration between GDF and its supply partners and identify solutions to more effectively meet the needs of countries and ensure sustainable access to affordable TB products.
The meeting coincided with the release of the new GDF Diagnostics Catalog, featuring over 500 quality-assured products to equip and supply all levels of a TB laboratory network. The full range of products in the catalog, from diagnostic equipment and reagents to biosafety and waste management supplies, can now be easily found by product category. All countries are eligible to procure from GDF in order to access quality-assured products at the lowest available prices on the market.
Having become the leading global supplier of quality-assured TB diagnostics and laboratory supplies with a turnover of US$ 109 million in 2017, GDF highlighted at the meeting its expanded scope of work in the diagnostics field. Mirroring the comprehensive package of services it already provides for medicines, GDF is building capacity to provide technical assistance to countries on procurement and supply chain management of laboratory commodities and is positioning itself as a launchpad for manufacturers to efficiently introduce new products into countries. As the chair of the TB Procurement & Market-Shaping Action Team (TPMAT), GDF is also leading the coordination of partners to improve access to affordable prices and improve service and maintenance of diagnostics products.
In addition to gaining a better understanding of GDF processes for sourcing and procurement, supply partners had a unique opportunity to hear from and pose questions to a panel of representatives of selected high TB burden countries that procure and use their products. The WHO Global TB Programme also gave insights into its technology evaluation process and what in the diagnostic pipeline is on the horizon. A breakout session was organized to enable closer interactions between suppliers and freight forwarders to focus on solutions to further improve GDF’s lead times. A new GDF Technical Information Note on the LAM test was also released at the meeting. The first of a planned series for all diagnostics in the GDF catalog, this Technical Information Note provides guidance to countries on how to plan orders of the test and its ancillary products as well as links to key resources.
Enhanced collaboration across all stakeholders was a common theme throughout the meeting, given that GDF’s performance relies on partnership, and a failure to meet targets at any step of the supply chain can reduce positive impacts. Looking to the future, suppliers and freight forwarders will work with GDF on novel approaches to reduce the lead time for quotations to clients, minimize costs of freight, more accurately forecast demand for products, and improve country access to equipment maintenance services and affordable pricing. Furthermore, in light of trends whereby national governments are assuming increasing responsibility for financing and reverting to national procurement processes, GDF, and its suppliers will need to find innovative ways to adapt to support programs and ensure ongoing access to affordable, quality-assured diagnostics.
For manufacturers of TB diagnostics and laboratory supplies that are interested in attending future meetings, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.