“My role is to protect patients by protecting our medicines”

Meet Ed Kinkler. As Senior Manager for Logistics Chain and Product Security in the Americas, Ed’s role is to ensure that Teva’s medicines are stored and transported to their destinations safely. He is fighting a constant battle with criminals who want to get their hands on these highly valuable products.

We ship millions of dollars worth of medicines every year. My role is to make sure that they get to the patients that need them without falling into the wrong hands. It has been a long time since we had a major issue and we prefer it stays that way.

My role is to protect patients by protecting our medicines. Somebody can do a lot of damage rummaging through the back of a truck for five minutes. The slightest sign of tampering could cause us to reject the entire shipment.

meet_the_guardianWe have red flags in certain locations and routes where we are especially vigilant. These are places that we know organized groups have their eyes on some of our payloads. There are parts of the world where we have to send trucks under escort to make sure the drivers and their cargo get through safely.

Some countries can be very dangerous. One carrier told me they thought it was a good year if they only had seven lorries hijacked. It is not as bad in the U.S. thankfully, although the largest ever theft in the pharmaceutical industry was in Connecticut when a firm’s warehouse was broken in to and almost $80 million worth of stock was taken. Around that time, other companies in the US also experienced thefts of around $8 million and that was followed up with more than $70 million of transport thefts.

Things have changed a lot. I was involved in creating a new auditing system to enhance the level of product security in the supply chain. It used to be pretty standard within the pharmaceutical industry for a delivery driver to turn up with a truck, sign some papers and be sent off with good wishes and the hope that they got to their destination. However, around 2010 pharmaceutical companies began to change their procedures in response to the growing number of threats and incidents that were happening within the industry.

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We have strict procedures in place to keep drivers and cargoes secure. Feedback from our carriers says that Teva has some of the highest standards for security. We operate with teams of drivers and have redundant tracking on consignments, including the drivers’ cell phones, so we know where they are at all times.

We can respond to an incident almost instantly. In the case of an emergency that involves a driver or our medicines, we have a 24/7 Global Security Operation Centre and are also tied in to an analytics firm that has immediate access to law enforcement task forces throughout the U.S., Canada and other countries. They have access to security cameras, tracking systems, live cell phone data and shared information resources.

Security is not just about the product on the truck. A lot of medicines are shipped worldwide and we have people watching those consignments land. If the paperwork has one letter or number off, we take action. 

At times my role seems like it is all about gates, guards and cameras. When consignments reach our warehouses some products have to be kept in cages, others in vaults, while we often have areas of restricted access. We also make sure staff background checks are carried out given the number of people that is often involve in the supply chain.

Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do

I served in the U.S. Marine Corps and 21 years as a police officer. I got involved with pharmaceuticals logistics chain and product security when I joined Teva around ten years ago. Before, I worked on ensuring the security of precious metals like rhodium, platinum and palladium being shipped through Mexico.

Everyone in the supply chain has a civic responsibility. After all, we are transporting medicines and drivers have to be aware of that and drive safely. We also uphold our side by making the supply chain is as safe and secure as possible for all involved.

A new challenge that we face is the emergence of 5G technology. Whilst we will have lots of new capabilities, so too will criminals. Security will need to keep up with new technology in order to protect the network but we’ve shown we have been ahead of the curve and know how to protect our medicines. 

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