SMi presented its 13th annual Parallel Trade conference, which took place in London on the 5-6 of February 2019.
As the only parallel trade conference in Europe, the event provided a unique opportunity to hear from industry leaders from both sides to share different perspectives on the practice of parallel trade.
Brexit, of course, was of particular significance this year, particularly as the leaving date of 29 March 2019 is fast approaching. After this date, the UK will no longer be a part of the EU single market. It will probably have a significant impact on parallel trade. The hot topic besides Brexit is the upcoming Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), which comes into effect this week.
The first day of the conference focused on the fundamentals of parallel trade and its impact on different markets, pharmaceutical companies and patients. The ever-changing environment in which this occurs was apparent and the need for a mindful approach about the immediate and long term impact of industry activities in this area. A key theme was the importance of prioritising patient safety, including optimising access to medicines and preventing counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain. It was noted by a speaker that in comparison to previous years, patients took a more prominent role in the presentations at this year’s conference. This is perhaps unexpected in light of increasing discussion about ‘patient centricity’ in the industry.
The second day of the conference addressed the complex regulatory context of parallel trade. As an already highly regulated industry, parallel trade adds a new layer of difficulty for all stakeholders. Challenges discussed included navigating pricing, competition law, intellectual property obligatory and supply considerations. Lots of discussion also took place about the root causes of drug shortages and how to prevent them. It was clear that there remains a lot of grey area within parallel trade, which makes tackling these issues no easy task. A major theme from this day was the importance of collaboration and taking a proactive approach to preparing for regulatory changes.
With strong and sometimes conflicting opinions about many aspects of parallel trade, the conference involved lively panel sessions and engaging question and answer sessions. It is clear that there is a lot to discuss about parallel trade and conferences such as this play an important role in providing a platform for these conversations to occur.