European Healthcare Distribution Association / Groupement International de la Répartition Pharmaceutique

Wholesale Brief - June 2018


Dear Members,

The 59thGIRP Annual Meeting and Conference on “Entrepreneurship in Healthcare: Powering Innovation” was held in Dublin on 27-29 May 2018. The event set a forward-looking tone for the discussion, by gathering an impressive line-up of speakers from the political, policy, business and healthcare worlds to look at how innovation, investment and technology are driving forces for the future of Europe’s healthcare systems. The power of all healthcare stakeholders working in collaborative partnerships brings value to their common constituents – the patients. It was agreed that there are clear challenges to face as each operator is oftentimes focused on its own segment of the pharma sector, however it was clearly understood that where there is a will there is a way, and while the sector as a whole is slow on seizing possible opportunities for greater collaboration, the future is bright for patients as industry and healthcare distributors express clear commitment to increasing innovation and entrepreneurship. 

On the first day, we welcomed on stage Dr. Severin Schwan, Chief Executive Officer of Roche. Dr. Schwan, while addressing delegates on the issue of ‘Digital’ Healthcare, spoke about the “evolving supply chain” and how his organisation is continuously developing a strategy towards “personalised healthcare” (PHC). He also addressed the great potential of real-world data analysis while acknowledging challenges in relation to access, analysis and use. Continuing on this, GIRP President, René Jenny, said that “GIRP and its members, firmly believe in the power of collaboration and partnership. We believe that a strong relationship with partners throughout the value chain contributes to building efficient and resilient healthcare systems. Technology and digitalisation in healthcare will favour innovation and bring forth better adapted solutions for better access and improved patient care”. GIRP shows dedication to build broader and deeper alliances with our industry partners and look forward to being part of that journey as our supply chains are evolving into the future.

On the second day, the conference continued with a session on the Falsified Medicines Directive. On Saturday 9 February 2019, deadlines set by the EU Delegated Regulation on Safety Features, which is part of the so called Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), will kick-in and medicines verifications systems will go live across Europe. On that date, the entire pharmaceutical sector will have to comply with the requirements established in the falsified medicines legislation. In a panel discussion, we welcomed on stage Ms Agnès Mathieu-Mendes, Deputy Head of Unit, DG Sante (European Commission), Mr Andreas Walter, General Manager (EMVO) and Ms Monika Derecque-Pois, Director General (GIRP). The panellists recognised that enormousefforts have been underway, and work currently reaches new highs; nevertheless, there is still some way to go to meet the deadline.

The 60thAnnual Meeting and Conference will be held in Stockholm on 26-28 May 2019, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming you in Brussels on this occasion.  

Until then we wish you a relaxing summer break!

Kind regards,
The GIRP Team


SSI Schaefer supplies state-of-the-art picking system to pharmaceutical wholesaler

Long-term success in the pharmaceutical sector calls for the highest transparency and consistent documentation. In order to meet these requirements, Pharmaceutical Distribution Company Slawex Sp. z o.o. from Lublin, leading pharmaceutical wholesaler in Poland, commissioned SSI Schaefer with the extension and modernization of their distribution center in Klaudyn. Fully automatic picking processes combined with the Schaefer Scan Machine meet pharmaceutical requirements and guidelines.

The combination of 12 fully automated A-Frame picking systems with the Schaefer Scan Machine facilitates efficient single product picking and reading according to the guidelines of tracking and tracing for pharmaceutical products. The collaboratively developed concept is complemented by RF picking, a complex bin conveying system, de-stackers and lidding and address insertion machines. 

Optimized flow of goods thanks to automation

After dispensing individual products from the automats onto the collecting belt, the products are aligned and read from all six sides by highly sensitive cameras. Possible reading errors are marked, and the affected bins are automatically directed to a check station. Depending on the order structure, the system reads up to 10,000 individual products per hour with batch number, expiry date and serial number - thus enabling a fully automatic, transparent and consistent documentation of pharmaceutical products. Warehouse management and coordinated process control of order handling are achieved with the efficient logistics software WAMAS® by SSI Schaefer. 

The intralogistics expert implemented the first phase of the system extension during operation in a very short period of time and the scan tunnel will be implemented in the first half of 2018. "The combination of highest efficiency, maximum picking safety with zero-error tolerance and automated digitalization of all required data was essential for ordering," summarizes Grzegorz Matuszewski, Operational Director at Slawex. "An innovative system concept is an important component for making our processes prepared for Industry 4.0 and further company growth." 


Tamro is speeding up the business development


Tamro will concentrate even more strongly on the aim to be the leading service provider in the health sector. Focus areas of the business are a first-class distribution of pharmaceuticals and health products, service business and development of new cooperation models with pharmacists. 

Speed and resources of the development will be supported by organizational changes as well. 

  • Business Development Unit has been established, and member of the Management Team, Quality Director Kati Vuorikallas will be in charge of the Unit and will act as a Quality and Development Director from now on. 
  • A new team has been established for development of the “Pharmacy of the Future” concept, committed to the project full-time. More capabilities will be recruited to the team during 2018. The aim of the development work is to establish most advanced operating model for Finnish pharmacies, taking advantage of best practices from European markets. 
  • M.Sc. (Econ.) and MA (Psych) Tiina Rolig has been appointed as Human Resources Director and member of the Management Team from May 2nd on. Rolig is responsible for developing talent and competence according to the strategic needs of business areas. Rolig’s previous work was at Canon Finland as Human Resources Director.   

- We are bringing different actors at health field together and are already now operating in central point at Finnish health sector. We will develop our business and offering towards where there are still unsolved challenges, or possibilities to bring additional value to Finnish consumers and patients, says Managing Director Kai Kaasalainen.    

More information available here


PHOENIX group registers a surge in earnings


  • Record figures in 2017/18 with total operating performance at €31.5 billion and revenue at €24.9 billion
  • Entry into the Romanian market
  • Expansion to over 2,200 own pharmacies across Europe
  • Fiscal year 2018/19: positive revenue development expected

The PHOENIX group has ended the past year with a significant increase in its revenue and result. In the fiscal year 2017/18 (31/01/18), earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 9.0 per cent to €468.0 million. This positive development was primarily attributable to the consolidation of Mediq Apotheken Nederland B.V. – one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the company – as well as to measures to improve efficiency.

The healthcare provider, which operates throughout Europe, saw its total operating performance rise by 4.3 per cent to €31.5 billion, the highest level so far in the company’s history. This figure comprises revenue and handled volume. The PHOENIX group’s revenue stood at €24.9 billion, an increase of 1.9 per cent on the comparison period. In terms of the European markets, revenue for 2017/18 grew in three quarters of the group’s countries in comparison with the previous year. “For eight years, we have achieved stronger growth than the market, a remarkable accomplishment in our industry,” said Oliver Windholz, Chief Executive Officer of PHOENIX Pharma SE.

Acquisitions underline leading position of the PHOENIX group

Once again, at the presentation of the balance sheet in Mannheim, Oliver Windholz was confident about the current year: “For 2018/19, we expect renewed revenue growth despite a difficult market situation.” The acquisition of the “Goodwill Apoteka” pharmacy chain in Serbia, which took place after the end of the fiscal year, is contributing to this growth. With the addition of these pharmacies, PHOENIX as the market leader in Serbian retail now operates more than 300 pharmacies locally. With its market entry in Romania, PHOENIX is further expanding its leading position in Europe. In April 2018, the healthcare provider signed a purchase agreement for the takeover of the Romanian pharmaceutical wholesaler Farmexim S.A. and the nationwide pharmacy chain Help Net Farma S.A. The acquisition is subject to approval by the antitrust authorities.

More information available here


KNAPP: GEHE implements first KNAPP-Store in the McKesson Europe group

GEHE is opening a brand-new, ultramodern subsidiary in Rostock, Germany, this summer. This investment in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will provide the company with top-notch storage and central belt technology for more than 100,000 different medicines. The new site in Rostock will consolidate the activities of the existing subsidiaries in Schwerin and Neubrandenburg.

GEHE opted for a cutting-edge central belt combination of a fast-mover autopicker and a KNAPP-Store – a unique fusion in the McKesson Europe group – to supply their customers even more efficiently. The KNAPP-Store ensures easy handling of slow-moving articles and returns as well as articles with different lot numbers and date marks. Picking the articles onto a common central belt together with continuous tracking ensures fast and error-free processing of all articles in the warehouse. 

More information available here


Market entry in Romania (press release)


With the market entry in Romania, the PHOENIX group is further expanding its leading position in Europe. The healthcare provider has signed a purchase agreement to acquire the Romanian pharmaceutical wholesaler Farmexim SA and the nationwide pharmacy chain Help Net Farma SA. The acquisition is subject to antitrust approval.

"The Romanian health sector is developing dynamically. The country has been a blank spot in Europe for us so far. With the acquisition, we are able to position ourselves well in this growth market for PHOENIX, "said Oliver Windholz, CEO of PHOENIX Pharma SE, on the acquisition. Farmexim and Help Net are established players in pharmaceutical wholesale and retail in Romania, which are ideally suited to the business model of the integrated healthcare provider PHOENIX. "The corporate cultures of Farmexim and Help Net are in line with our core values as a pan-European family business. We want to successfully develop the business in Romania with the experienced management team, "says Windholz.

Farmexim, founded in 1990 by Ovidiu Buluc, was the first private pharmaceutical pharmaceutical import and distribution company in Romania. The Bucharest-based pharmaceutical wholesaler employs around 800 people. In 2016, the turnover was over 400 million euros. The ten national distribution centers serve around 3,900 customers - with a focus on pharmacies and hospitals. Help Net Farma owns and operates the Help Net pharmacy chain. It is one of the five leading pharmacy chains in Romania with a network of around 220 pharmacies across the country. The approximately 1,600 employees provide a reliable supply of medicines and health products to more than 2.5 million customers every year, combined with high-quality patient advice.

"I am convinced that PHOENIX, as a family business and leading European healthcare provider, will continue the success story of Farmexim and Help Net," said majority shareholder Ovidiu Buluc at the signing ceremony. He emphasized that today's management of both companies will work closely with PHOENIX to ensure successful operations. "It was important to me to hand the companies over to another family business. No one understands better what it means to build a business than the one who has taken that path himself, "concludes Buluc.

More information available here


The Cofares Group advances its environmental commitment with new projects to reduce the ecological footprint


The Cofares Group, a leading cooperative in the pharmacy distribution sector, has been betting for years on the development of strategies in favor of the environment that promote a reduction in water consumption, electricity consumption and the generation of waste. A philosophy that is framed in the respect and environmental protection present in the DNA of the organization, a public commitment in favor of the protection of the environment that includes its management policy and social responsibility. 

In this context and coinciding with the celebration of World Environment Day, the Cofares Group has announced its willingness to launch different projects aimed at further reducing its environmental impact. In particular, it is an initiative to promote the application of zero waste strategies by promoting a waste management model based on the philosophy of circular economy, improving efficiency throughout the chain, the traceability of waste, its direct management and promoting the segregation of origin, all with the aim of reaching the goal of 'zero waste'.

More information available here

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