As 2021 comes to a close, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on a challenging but transformational year for Smartway and everything we have achieved. In keeping with Smartway’s core values, we’ve continued to improve and evolve everything we do.

From new business divisions to service patients, to making a profound difference to the communities we support in the areas we operate, we’ve laid the foundations for the next stage of our success – and what promises to be a busy and exciting 2022 for Smartway.

Growing our teams

Everything we do is made possible by our people. That is why during 2021, we grew our teams at every level, including focusing on key divisions.

A widely respected leader in his field, Robert Donnell was appointed as our Executive Vice President of Medicines Access, joining the management team at Smartway. Robert is leading our global development in Medicines Access, including our Expanded Access Programme offering alongside Aid and Development supply.

We didn’t just hire new team members – we also made promotions from within our existing team. Dhruv Patel took the role of Chief Operating Officer and Nicole Lyons took the role of Head of Regulatory Affairs. We also moved people internally to better deliver our service.

Meanwhile, we opened new divisions to help healthcare professionals and, ultimately, patients, obtain the medicines they need from Smartway. We were pleased to welcome Giles Holford and Sharan Sanghera to the team – they will focus on the supply of Sexual Health medicines and products.

We have experienced a 15% increase in staff numbers during the past 12 months across commercial, operations and regulatory. We are committed to continuing the expansion of our team in 2022  and we look forward to welcoming our new starters.

Increasing our reach

Smartway is a global business and we’re always looking for new ways to get closer to healthcare professionals and partners. 2021 saw the launch of our first distribution centre in Ireland, as well as a new office in the United States. We are currently scoping other sites to expand our network.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit, we continued to increase the number of packs distributed to healthcare professionals, hospitals and patients around the world. We also started to supply into new countries, not previously supplied by Smartway. We attribute this to our growing partnerships and greater social media awareness around our brand.

Strengthening our partnerships

Nothing is more important to us than nurturing strong, lasting partnerships that connect medicines with the people who need them.

The sexual health supply team have worked hard on securing exclusive distribution agreements with global medical device manufacturers, making Smartway an official importer into the European market. We have also reached agreements to supply products to the UK market, which has cemented us as a leader in the field very early on.

We continue to be the distributor of choice for manufacturers of Cannabis Based Products for Medicinal Use because of our expertise with one of our new clients showing a 5% share price increase upon announcing their partnership with Smartway.

Setting the standard in quality and safety

Quality and safety have always been the cornerstone of how we operate – it is part of the fabric of Smartway and it will continue to be an area of intense focus. It’s there in our regulatory compliance, our commitment to service, and the expertise of our people.

Throughout 2021, we continued to invest in quality including through the expansion of our technical systems which support compliance activities. In addition to building a platform to automate important regulatory processes, we have developed further automated checks to carry out due diligence on supply chain partners, which has saved weeks of work, which has been reallocated to continuously improving our services.

At the same time, we’re dedicated to raising quality across the sector –not just at Smartway. Our team actively participated in World Quality Week and shared their expertise and knowledge. We spoke at the Early Access Congress and Orphan Drug Congress to leaders in patient advocacy and pharma research. We also attended conferences around the world, including those focussing on medicines supply and compliance.

Responding to challenges, transforming lives

By investing in our people, our global reach and supply chain, our important partners and quality, we’re poised to respond to new, unexpected challenges.

We continued to help the global fight against COVID-19, delivering Personal Protective Equipment and medicines across the world. Our people remained committed to the vital role they played in this global pandemic, observing rapidly changing safety protocols. For our customers, we launched a live chat function on our website, allowing us to respond faster to urgent enquiries, providing even easier access for new customers to our specialists and helping patients engage directly with our pharmacy.

In Latin America, we used our strong relationships with manufacturers and knowledge of regulatory regimes to source a medicine that could no longer be imported as a result of the pandemic. Smartway were able to restore supply in well under a month, bringing life-changing medicine to those thousands of patients in need.

We worked with the NHS to respond to shortages in the UK of vital medicines by bringing in unlicensed alternative medicines to ensure continued supply for UK patients. We worked on building our own intelligence systems to ensure that we can predict shortages in the market, so that patients never lose out.

Contributing to the wider world, empowering access

2021 also saw our continued investment in the wider industry and communities where we operate.

From internal volunteering and fundraising for local charities and causes, to sponsoring important events like the AidEx exhibition in Brussels, we’re constantly finding new ways to give back.

We also supported Helping Hands Charitable Trust, a charity based in Mumbai, India. At the forefront of Coronavirus relief, Helping Hands reached out to us to source medical supplies that were scarce or beyond their financial resources. After receiving their list of requirements, we donated all the supplies we could secure – and prompted our suppliers to make generous donations of their own. We are proud to say that the impact was immediate.

Finally, we took further steps on our path to building a sustainable future, implementing our global sustainability strategy in line with the United Nations goals. This approach has been central to both our supply chain developments and the creation of our new locations.

Sharing the incredible work of our people

More than anything else, we’re proud to be able to share stories of the commitment, drive and capability of our people at every level. They make everything we do possible.

Sharing these stories online and increasing our activity on social media, we’ve seen significant engagement with three times as many people engaging with us. In 2022, we look forward to sharing even more of these stories. Watch this space for exciting announcements in this area.

Smartway is a global organisation which operates in a complex environment with ever-changing regulations and real life-changing implications for patients. 2021 has shown us that, together, we can make a real impact where it matters most. That will continue.

We thank every one of our employees and stakeholders for their work, dedication and commitment to our core focus: putting patients first and holding true to our mission statement and values, ensuring that we continue transforming lives by empowering access to medicines globally.