The entrance of cell and gene therapies (CGTs) into the market is impacting every corner of the industry. Likewise, the demand for high-quality CGT consulting services continues to grow with each passing day. That’s why we’ve committed to expanding our CGT support with the addition of newest team member, Paul Furgal.
Paul has more than 25 years of pharmaceutical supply chain experience – working with manufacturers and a multinational integrated wholesaler, helping clients devise and implement successful commercial solutions. His background allows him to provide a unique insider perspective and offer creative solutions to the supply chain challenges facing new products, like CGTs.
In the Q&A below, Paul shares his thoughts on why CGT is such an essential area of focus, how 3PL has evolved into the shining star of the supply chain, and why now is the right time for a career change. To learn more about Paul’s background and personality, read his bio here. Welcome, Paul!
Archbow Consulting: You’ve been in the pharmaceutical industry for a long time, working in a variety of different roles across the supply chain. What made now the right time to move into consulting?
Paul Furgal: My birthday this year was a milestone, and that’s something that will make you step back and ask yourself, “What’s next?” I’ve known Archbow partner, Kevin Cast, for more than 20 years and always knew in the back of my mind that we’d work together again. The opportunity to work at a place like Archbow where you can build something special and have fun doing it is something I simply couldn’t turn down.
The introduction of CGTs to the marketplace is creating a demand for entirely new solutions, and I want to roll up my sleeves and contribute to those solutions in a meaningful way – not just in distribution, but in end-to-end, big-picture ways. The distribution ecosystem doesn’t have to be reinvented for CGT; it just needs to be adjusted. But that means you have to understand every aspect of the ecosystem to be able to make the right adjustments at the right places in the supply chain, or when it comes to CGT, the Demand Chain, to drive the necessary modifications.
Joining Archbow allows me to take expertise I’ve gathered over the years, around the industry, and make those adjustments to the distribution ecosystem. Additionally, the Archbow team possesses many areas of expertise, such as Patient Support, that are essential for CGT commercialization. By combining our respective expertise, Archbow can even better assist manufacturers when building comprehensive CGT services. There are truly more options available than ever before, and it’s hard for manufacturers to keep up with such a vast and rapidly evolving landscape. Archbow can help them figure it all out, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the team.
AC: What excites you most about the pharmaceutical industry today?
PF: To begin, the science is fascinating. Ten years ago, we couldn’t have even dreamed of being where we are today. And that means that, as an industry, we weren’t prepared to support products like CGTs. It’s incredibly rewarding to be on the front end of creating solutions for ultra-complex products. We’re all in this together and leading the way into solutions that work for all stakeholders is right where I want to be.
AC: CGT is obviously a significant area of interest for you and something the industry is racing to figure out. What about CGT attracted your attention, and what do you foresee happening next?
PF: CGTs are attracting everyone’s attention because of the clinical success. But, they’re also interesting because they’re disrupters. Every touchpoint in the supply chain looks different through a CGT lens. Patients are still the focus, but now the role of “customer” has shifted from the physician/prescriber to the hospital (and eventually, likely to the clinic). That’s an exciting – and very different – mindset that alters everything from how sales teams operate to how the role of the entire Demand Chain is evolving.
Many of us grew up in an industry where new products targeted thousands of prescribers. With CGT, we may see that each product is only delivered at a small handful of academic medical centers. When the patient goes to the medication, instead of the other way around, it not only changes how manufacturers market the product but also determines the types of support patients need. How will travel and lodging for the patient and family members be coordinated? Who oversees pre- and post-treatment counseling? What happens when patients cross state lines? Archbow is already starting to answer these primary concerns on a global scale – which can be even more challenging when you consider the country-specific nuances between Demand Chain solutions, patient support programs, and privacy regulations.
AC: There is still much to evolve in CGT. What will you be watching?
PF: A few key areas are top of mind for me:
The supply chain needs to be shortened, not lengthened. Vendor partners who understand that are already a step ahead.
Hospitals are a vital stakeholder, and they want/need a common ordering platform. Sub-optimal launches often discount the hospital stakeholders.
Pre- and post-treatment needs to be coordinated by someone. Is it possible for specialty pharmacies to assume this role?
For CGTs that treat cancer, oncologists are focused on the continuum of care, don’t want to lose their patients, and have the unique ability to organize and monetize situations in their purview. As product tolerability profiles improve, oncologists will be an essential stakeholder to consider in distribution solutions.
Alternative payment models, including pay overtime and pay for performance, are still works in progress. But, they’re not going away, and the sooner a model that works for all stakeholders is determined, the better for everyone across the industry. I am excited to work with Archbow’s global pricing expert, Bertrand Tardivel, in this regard.
Despite the small patient populations, it might make sense for manufacturers to consider multiple distribution partners. It’s worth exploring whether using both a primary and secondary partner could make things easier on the end users, e.g., the hospitals.
AC: How is the role of 3PL changing/elevating in the supply chain?
PF: As we work to shorten the supply chain, 3PL is often the answer. The efficiencies delivered in the supply/demand chain with a 3PL can be game-changers. With most new launches being specialty drugs, the entire business model has evolved, and 3PL is entirely reflective of that. Today’s 3PLs are able to bring more to the table, including serialization services, import/export expertise, and state licensure assistance.
AC: Now, on to a personal question. What is life like with four sons!?!
PF: It’s hectic. It’s also incredibly rewarding. They fill my life in a way I could never have imagined. This year, three of them will be in college, leaving us with just one at home. After so many years spent on the baseball and football fields, I’m not sure what I’ll do with my free time! At the end of the day, I’m so fortunate.
AC: You have degrees in History and Education, and even started your career as a teacher. That isn’t something you see in our industry every day. How did your studies prepare you to work in pharma?
PF: My education helped me become an excellent communicator and presenter, which is vital in this or any industry. Also, students can be pretty tough on a young teacher – if you can handle a classroom of spirited children, you can handle a boardroom.
Please join us in welcoming Paul to the Archbow team. Send Paul a note here.