Bristol-Myers Squibb's Indiana Operations, Wyeth's Montreal EH&S Teams Win the 2005 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Team of the Year Awards; FDA's PAT Team Also Recognized for its Pioneering Work

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Only a few years ago, drug companies were described as "behind potato chip makers" in the quality and efficiency of their manufacturing operations. Drug manufacturing reportedly costs the industry over $90 billion per year. Operational Excellence programs and teamwork are changing that picture. This year, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine recognizes BMS' Indiana Tech Ops and Wyeth's Montreal EHS teams for outstanding improvements in manufacturing efficiency, product quality and workplace safety. FDA's Process Analytical Technology (PAT) team will receive a separate award for initiating important changes to facilitate manufacturing improvement

Teams from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals have won the inaugural Team of the Year awards sponsored by Putman Media and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine. The awards recognize drug manufacturing teams that have made outstanding improvements in efficiency and quality at their facilities.

Drug makers have lagged behind non-regulated industries in adopting some of the quality improvement programs, such as Lean Manufacturing or Six Sigma, that are now the rule in other industries. Today, as drug companies aim to reduce the cost of medications and improve quality, the role of manufacturing is becoming more important than ever. These awards are the first to recognize the people leading the effort to improve drug manufacturing.

BMS’s Indiana Technical Operations team, led by John Wellemeyer, won the Gold Award in the large-scale projects category, for a highly successful Lean Manufacturing initiative undertaken by the entire manufacturing team at its Evansville and Mt. Vernon, Indiana sites.

Led by Denis Laflamme, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals' Environmental Health & Safety team, based in St.Laurent (Montreal), was the Gold prize winner in the small-scale project category, for a team-driven program that transformed the plant into a model for worker safety and welfare.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Process Analytical Technology (PAT) team won a separate award. Led by Ajaz Hussain, the team has initiated important changes in the regulatory framework. The team has evaluated analytical technologies and modeling methods for testing drug quality during manufacturing, and FDA has approved the use of these methods. If adopted by the drug industry, these technologies would substantially reduce the cost of making pharmaceuticals, while allowing manufacturers to improve product quality.    

Silver Award winners are Novartis’ Tech Ops Team in Suffern, N.Y., in the large-scale category, and Nutri Granulations’ team in La Mirada, Calif., in the small-scale category.

Receiving Bronze Awards are Baxter Healthcare’s North Cove Facility’s 1-L IV Solutions Team in Marion, N.C., and Pfizer’s Tri Blender and Process Improvement teams in Kalamazoo, Mich. Alza Corp.’s IONSYS manufacturing team in Vacaville, Calif. has won honorable mention for its work in preparing a combination drug-device for commercialization.

Teams were judged (with any indicators of company name or site location removed) by a panel of independent experts from J&J, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Light Pharma, ARC Advisory Group, and other organizations.

Each team was rated based on the challenge, scope and team aspect of the project it undertook, as well as the results and lasting impact it would have on the organization and team members. Winners will be awarded at their facilities this Spring.

“The winning teams demonstrate the end of top-down leadership in drug manufacturing,” said Pharmaceutical Manufacturing publisher John Huff. “Team leaders at these organizations work side by side with teams so that each member clearly sees the connection between his or her work each day and the quality and cost of medications reaching the consumer.” All finalists were featured in the April issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. Their stories can also be read at http://www.PharmaManufacturing.com.

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Agnes Shanley