Case study

Lessons learned during the pandemic and how BioPhorum’s Risk and Business Continuity Workstream helped: NewAge Industries approach to risk management

BioPhorum’s Risk management in the biologic industry supply chain: a best practice guide was published in November 2020 by the Risk and Business Continuity Workstream to encourage industry to review its approach to risk management and to validate, refine, and improve current company practices.

We spoke to Sonia Schwantes, Director of Product Management at NewAge Industries, and a long-standing member of BioPhorum’s Risk and Business Continuity Workstream, about her company’s approach to risk management and what it learned from the pandemic.

New Age Industries logo

How did you manage risk and business continuity before COVID-19?

Being ‘lean’ is core to many companies’ business models, meaning they don’t hold much inventory. We’ve always held stock, which helped us handle the explosion of business with COVID-19. But in other ways, we still were quite reactive.

Like many others, we didn‘t fully understand the complexity of our supply chain and had to learn to manage new and rapidly changing variables just to get orders out. As the ripple effects went out, we also quickly realized the limitations of practices in an industry that doesn’t manage change well. It made us realize how much we needed to be more proactive on things like interchangeability, forecasting, and communication to build even stronger relationships with customers and suppliers.

How did you manage during the pandemic?

With a lot of hard work, a little bit of panic, and more cooperation than we’ve ever needed before. COVID-19 was tough for us like everybody else because we couldn’t get enough people to handle the business, and everyone worked long hours to get as much product to the market as possible. All the while knowing that we were having a huge impact on the quality of life for people as we were supplying companies working on vaccines. It was probably the most chaotic I’ve ever seen our industry.

We sometimes had to do things manually because systems usually work well when everything’s flowing fine, but when there’s a major disruption, we have to intervene manually or else everything spirals out of control.

How are you doing things differently as a result of what you’ve learned?

The pandemic was a big learning experience for us as we were a fairly small company. We learned we had to start conversations sooner, pass on knowledge much quicker, and think about the wider pandemic impacts. We still have more to do in terms of understanding our supply chain, but we’re putting more programs in place and being a lot more proactive about issues.

We’re still feeling the fallout of panic buying as customers now have large stocks to use, so we must wait until they need replenishment. These peaks and troughs are sometimes hard to anticipate, especially if you’ve never experienced them before. This kind of fluctuation was unthinkable to us before COVID-19.

We’ve also learned to expect our customers to ask for different things. For example, they want to know about second sourcing but don’t want the alternative to be in the US. Overseas customers may want the second source to be in their territory because they’ve seen US government intervention to prioritize the home market over others.

The long-term impact of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and Chinese policies – we’re trying to figure out these issues and many more on a global level. There are still problems with some supply chain areas and minor panic buying because of new issues that have come up. COVID-19 is leveling out, but we still have things like monkeypox that may not be as global but may still impact the supply chain.

The pandemic brought the complex global nature of our industry home to us and many others.

How has being part of the BioPhorum workstream helped you?

When we meet, we hear people from different areas and what’s impacting them on personal and business levels. Virtual meetings are great but meeting in person means we really get to know people. We get that kind of interaction through BioPhorum and it lets us hear alternative perspectives. We shouldn’t make assumptions about how industry works based on a few people we normally interact with, so BioPhorum lets us view the whole industry and understand how other business models work.

Working through BioPhorum brings to light many things we may not think about, but just talking with people at a neutral facility gives us lots of industry insight that is hard to match. This takes industry to a different level than we’ve ever had before. We get a lot from it in terms of feedback, interactions, and disagreements, and getting guidance that we’ve been looking for, for a long time.

Cell & Gene Therapy

Maximizing the impact of the many advanced therapies under development requires that the industry comes together to improve understanding of how to develop, control and manufacture these life changing therapies.

We connect strategic thinkers in drug development and contract manufacturing organizations with the aim of ensuring harmonization and alignment around issues such as potency assays, phase-appropriate guidance for critical quality attributes, operator safety, regulatory guidelines, and C&GT-specific validation issues, as well as working toward resolving the current challenges to commercializing C&GT products. Discover more and learn about the outputs here.

Development Group

The ever-increasing need to reduce product development lead times and the opportunities to exploit innovative technologies in development are two key industry themes that remain at the forefront of our work. The Phorum successfully connects process development organizations and provides a space where subject matter experts can work on issues such as quality by design and process characterization, cell line technologies, and molecule selection. Read some of the outputs and discover how you could benefit by getting involved.

Drug Substance

Accelerating improvement, exploiting opportunities offered by innovation, and identifying best practice approaches across all aspects of the manufacturing process – these are the essential objectives

Data and digital capabilities are at the core of many of these industry challenges. Work in BioPhorum Drug Substance is informed by BioPhorum Technology Strategy, which has summarized our industry’s market drivers and trends. Capacity, flexibility, sustainability and pace all feature as requirements to succeed in a rapidly changing environment.

Find out more about what our members are currently discussing and learn about some of the successful implementations of our output.

Fill Finish

Quality and demonstrating compliance are two priorities of BioPhorum Fill Finish. Representatives of the world’s top sterile filling operations come together to develop solutions to some of the most intractable technical and regulatory challenges.To address these challenges in drug product aseptic filling (‘fill’) and secondary packaging (‘finish’) operations, our community of industry experts is working relentlessly to continually improve the pharmaceutical quality system (PQS). Together they continue to strive towards developing and implementing safe, predictable, lean, and agile processes in drug product operations. Find out more about the Phorum output here. 

Information Technology

IT and digital advances are crucial in responding to the pharmaceutical industry’s challenges around speed, cost, quality, flexibility, and sustainability. Unlocking and realizing the value in the industry’s IT opportunities is the core mission of the IT Phorum. 

The digital manufacturing facility of the future needs to consider technology advances alongside organizational perspectives while maintaining foundational security requirements. All elements must be considered in the long term to deliver systemic change toward the digital factory vision. Our members collaborate in a format that stimulates and supports industry innovation and implementation. 


BioPhorum Regulatory CMC is affording professionals the opportunity to shape their own collaboration program focused on challenges and opportunities across strategy, science, operations, submissions and compliance. Following a discovery program of work with Heads of Regulatory CMC, in which we identified some key topics of collaboration, we are giving you the opportunity to participate and help us to shape the final collaboration program. This will focus on, filing and review, interactions with Health Authorities, and harmonization. Our mission is not just to discuss, but to deliver applicable outputs and publications that will have an impact – learn more about how you can get involved.

Supply Chain to Patient

The pharmaceutical outbound supply chain was built on a blockbuster model and doesn’t fit the needs of the changing pipeline and new modalities currently being developed. The geopolitical challenges of recent years have shown that the outbound supply chain needs to evolve to become more agile, and resilient, and address a more expectant end-user bying on patient-centricity. Industry collaboration can accelerate improvements and transform performance in a way not possible when working independently. This Phorum is founded on the belief that learning from each other and challenging current thinking to re-imagine the supply chain can reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Supply Partner

BioPhorum SP members want the inbound supply chain for the biomanufacturing industry to be recognized as one of the best-understood and managed global supply chains. They intend to be not only a trusted advisory group but also the engine that drives change for the industry. Working together, we aim to achieve supply chain transformation that provides:

  • an enhanced robustness and resilience
  • accelerated capability and capacity to effect technology adoption
  • reduced cost of quality, and
  • industry-wide alignment on operational implementation

There’s an extensive list of Phorum successes and tangible benefits that have been delivered to define industry best practise.


The BioPhorum Sustainability program is jointly designed, governed, and delivered by a membership drawn from licence holders, contract manufacturers, major suppliers and niche suppliers. This dynamic partnership means that we can quickly focus on the areas that have the greatest industry impact, and we can leverage learning from each other and other sectors – the chemical industry and the built environment for example.

BioPhorum’s unique ability to build a strong coalition for change for an entire industry is now being applied to the greatest challenge of our generation. Driven by evident industry needs, Phorum members are working to develop agreed industry benchmarks, establish the ROI of sustainability investments and to increase the efficacy of implementation of members’ sustainability strategies.

Technology Strategy

With a mission to define strategies to accelerate technology transformation and support the adoption of innovative technologies, BioPhorum Technology Strategy evolved from BioPhorum Technology Roadmapping, strives to realize the technology roadmap vision 2.0.

This is being achieved through a multi-stakeholder team of member companies with collective capability and influence who are committed to driving forth industry goals associated with: Speed to market, Quality, Value, Agility and On-Demand Supply and Sustainability.

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Introducing MediPhorum

The medical technology (MedTech) industry is a critical and complex sector. As highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, the MedTech industry provides a wide array of products and technologies that are vital to the safe and effective provision of care to many. Also, as seen over recent years, there is often the requirement for flexibility in supply, rapid development, and the introduction of new products to keep pace with global public health demands.

Advanced Wound Care and Wound Management

Advanced wound care (AWC) is the medical treatment for wounds that have not healed properly using conventional wound care products such as gauze, bandages, plasters, and wadding.

AWC involves treating chronic or complex wounds using products that are not as easily obtained over the counter. AWC can be divided into three main categories: wound healing, infection prevention, and restoration.

Drug Delivery

Drug delivery products are therapeutic and diagnostic products combining drugs, devices, and/or biological products, which enable safer and more efficient treatment due to careful and precise drug targeting, local administration, and tailored treatment.

Introducing the new MediPhorum

MediPhorum by BioPhorum has been launched to bring together senior business leaders and subject matter experts across multiple MedTech... read more

Introducing the new MediPhorum

MediPhorum by BioPhorum has been launched to bring together senior business leaders and subject matter experts across multiple MedTech... read more

Introducing the new MediPhorum

MediPhorum by BioPhorum has been launched to bring together senior business leaders and subject matter experts across multiple MedTech... read more
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