Here’s how Venus Remedies is striking ahead with cutting- edge tech
Venus Remedies is going from strength to strength with the adoption of bleeding-edge technology in its research, manufacturing, and communication infrastructure, striving to become a technology-first company in the pharmaceutical sector. Over the last two years, the pharma company has adopted several technologies to expand the reach of their products to stockists and retailers directly by creating a unique virtual marketplace. “The process up-gradation with digital marketplaces opens up the possibility of personalised experiences for our customers, tracked deliveries and better customer relationship management. We are among the first in the industry to adopt such a marketing model, taking all B2C technologies and applying them to the B2B model. Capitalising on the advantage of our size, we can take out-of-the-box decisions faster and implement them with greater speed and agility. We will make this increasingly scalable as we go forward,” Saransh Chaudhary, President, Critical Care Division, Venus Remedies, and CEO, Venus Medicine Research Centre (VMRC) told ETCIO.
The Venus Medicine Research Centre has always remained at the cutting edge of technology. Chaudhary has been trying to widen its capability matrix, which has enabled Venus to develop complex products that stand out and take them out of the competitive clutter.
“During FY 21, we added four new technologies, including Hollow Fibre models and India’s first dedicated Organ-in-Chip laboratory. Offering higher levels of reproducible control of both concentration and time of drug exposure in complex growth, infection, treatment and sampling regimens, our Hollow Fibre technology and Hollow Fibre Infection Model can provide useful data for antibiotic development and dosing” Chaudhary said. Likewise, Organ Chips enable them to understand the mechanism of drug action in a way that was never possible before, helping in reducing the time to clinical advancement of their pipeline candidates.
Introducing automation to achieve the highest quality
On the production side, Chaudhary continues to introduce automation solutions in labour-centric processes with the objective of reducing operator fatigue. The team is working towards augmenting human skills through technology, and their efforts have enabled us to achieve record-breaking production efficiency of up to 50 million vials in FY 2020-21. With the process-driven approach, the company have served their customers with the highest-quality products despite challenging timelines. The increased focus on patient care through the pandemic has validated our capabilities. With the use of analytical engines like Tableau, data-driven decision-making has saved them a significant number of work hours.In FY21, Venus Remedies invested close to 1 percent of its turnover in IT, and it plans to substantially increase this investment for the next financial year.
Understanding the data life cycle
In today’s age of information and data overload, it is essential to build the capability to process and analyse the large sums of data available. Over the past four years, The pharma company has made major strides in this direction by setting up a dedicated data analytics division in the company, where skilled data analysts and data scientists churn through billions of records from both internal and external data sources to produce meaningful insights that help in decision-making. A parallel aspect of going digital is establishing systems for appropriate data management. As Venus Remedies transitions to the cloud, they are investing in hardware and process up-gradation for improved security measures. On the hardware front, they have implemented firewall that filters and tracks every user activity in real-time. Along with that, the team of system administrators do active surveillance of the network to ensure that it stays healthy. On the process front, they have set up dedicated and secure channels for data aggregation and interpretation. With multi-factor authentication, our streams of data are kept secure. “We understand that surveillance should be accompanied by appropriate user awareness. So, we regularly organise awareness drives that initiate the conversation around data security and use. Last week, we held our annual Operation Clean Day wherein employees were engaged in understanding best practices for data retention, management and archiving,” he explains.
As Venus Remedies moves forward and builds on its existing capabilities, the company aims to increase their investment in data acquisition and processing technologies to cultivate a culture of data-driven decision-making.
Leveraging digital assets to deliver the integrated care
At the forefront of technology, Venus Remedies has a comprehensive software system for a pan-India antimicrobial resistance surveillance program. Implemented through a vast network across 15 states and 250 districts through 150 centres, including various healthcare institutions, hospitals and research centres across India, for data collection, feed and analysis, this initiative is aimed at understanding trends of emerging resistance. Venus Remedies has mapped emerging microbial resistance patterns for more than 40 antibiotics/combinations for close to 25,000 strains, which has immensely helped physicians take informed decision on designing therapy.
Diligently working towards addressing unmet medical needs created by the medical challenge of antimicrobial resistance, the VMRC has, over the years, added super-speciality labs to advance its understanding of drug development. Earlier this year, they had set up the kidney-in-a-chip model in collaboration with experts from Seattle, WA. This model will radically change the way they screen for drug toxicity and help them bridge the gap between preclinical and clinical development which has historically been a major point for drug attrition. It will enable them to understand the mechanisms of drug-induced kidney injury in humans and consequently enhance their ability to find better solutions for patients and caregivers. “In the near future, we will also create more relevant in-vivo systems using this technology by making a tandem connection to other human organs through flow dynamics,” he says.
Providing core strategic and transformational leadership
Chaudhary is are working on data-driven decision-making processes to develop new molecules, focus on quality research, have a better pricing strategy, establish robust customer relations, stay strong on the core system of advances and enhance market research capabilities through online and in-person interactions. Over the last two years, Venus Remedies has invested heavily in the technological up-gradation of its supply chain. End-to-end visibility of products has been the focus area because it provides better manageability and a more trustworthy experience for customers. The domain gained prominence as they ventured into Consumer Healthcare and online marketplaces.
“We developed our industry-specific and product-specific machine-learning algorithms, which allowed us to understand the ecosystem of deliveries across India and elsewhere abroad. AI enables us to offer cost-effective prices to our customers, increase transparency and limit the labour-intensive nature of assessment,” he says. They have dashboards to track every order and create a feedback mechanism, something that they could not do as effectively before. In a collaborative effort with industry partners, they now have a parallel system of online deliveries, over and above the robust distributor network, allowing them to serve small retailers and pharmacies directly from the warehouses. This was just not possible earlier and has opened up a host of new possibilities and business models.
They use real-time order tracking for all overseas shipments using state-of-the-art IOT technologies like low-energy Bluetooth and network-independent data transmission to keep a real-time track of deliveries and essential data points like temperature, humidity and anti-tampering alarms. In the domestic market, they have developed proprietary warehousing algorithms for carbonisation and shipper selection to reduce the shipping and delivery time by up to 50%.
Digital analytical tools to enhance the customer experience
Venus Remedies has embarked on the “Customer Delight Online” project with the vision of providing a delightful experience to its customers in India and abroad. Working in this direction, and have put into place a structure for online ordering, order tracking, payment reconciliation, mobile interactions, live chat support and other suites of products and services, exclusively for customers.
“We also envision our recently launched Consumer Healthcare Division as an online ecosystem and data-driven personalisation for end-consumers. With a focus on a novel line of research-based products catering to various common ailments and the nutraceutical industry, our Consumer Healthcare Division will be backed by intensive use of digital tools to reach out to consumers,” Chaudhary explained.
Marking their entry into the Consumer Healthcare space with the launch of R3SET, a nanotechnology-based herbal pain management solution. They are already reaching out to consumers with this product through a digital platform that addresses major concerns regarding pain points, backed by multiple-stage diagnosis and solutions provided by physiotherapists and orthopedic experts on the Venus Remedies panel to ensure that nothing is left to chance.
This artificial intelligence based platform interacts with consumers and provides solutions based on the inputs received from them. The pharma company uses Automated Patient Decision Aids (APDAs) that employ cognitive AI with insights gained from patient history or interactive questionnaires to understand the critical issues that need to be discussed with a physician or healthcare expert. APDAs then educate patients by providing evidence-based insight personalised to reflect the unique needs of patients, thus enabling them to take faster and more accurate decisions. Another focus area for Venus is Immersive Technologies, which refer to the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to enhance customers’ experience. “Be it telemedicine, AI or cloud computing, everything related to remote monitoring and data management will peak in the coming year. Additionally, targeted and personalised care for critical diseases is another trend that is likely to rise even more in years to come, and we are ready to make the most of it,” Chaudhary said.