World Health Organization Taps Standard Data to Save 32 Million Life-Saving NTD Tablets

July 7, 2021

Over one billion people around the world are at risk of contracting any number of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) each year. Though many NTDs are preventable and/or treatable these days, access to appropriate medications is not always guaranteed — despite the fact that big pharmaceutical giants (we’re talking GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck KGaA, and Pfizer) donate roughly 1.8 billion tablets annually. Challenging logistics, limited accountability, incongruent datasets, and incompatible in-field technologies add up to a plethora of inefficiencies (wasted time, wasted money, and most critically, wasted access to lifesaving product).

Such was the case until the World Health Organization gathered up the top pharma brass and sat them down with the Standard Co team to figure the whole mess out — spoiler alert: we did.

Working hand-in-hand with WHO and our global pharma partners, the brainiacs at Standard Co deployed a new supply chain optimization and visibility tool — aptly titled NTDeliver. At its core, the tool tackles end-to-end logistics, shores up inefficiencies, and automates communication from, say, a J&J warehouse to a WiFi-devoid, isolated schoolhouse in a remote African village.

We developed NTDeliver to integrate with complex inventory management systems all the way down to SMS-enabled flip phones.  But with curiosity being a core tenant of our data management operation, we knew there was something missing in the global logistics equation. In building what we initially thought of as a simple input function — an "Expiry Alarm" that monitors inventory expiration dates — we ultimately created a feature that saved WHO a decent [read: undisclosed] amount of money over the course of a year by alerting (and subsequently diverting) 32 million soon-to-be expiring tablets to under-resourced areas. We not only saved a ton of inventory from ending up in a landfill, we also played a small role in relieving suffering with data.

Cool story. But how does it all work?

Well, since you asked…

The big pharma companies send us weekly “packing lists” — typically as unstructured data locked in PDFs (more on that here) — that subdivide shipments into “batches”. Each batch is then broken up and distributed to afflicted areas, but not without its share of complications since most of these destinations are within countries that have decentralized information systems. What’s more, packing lists across the companies are not standardized (some “batches” are “batches”, others are “lots”; some contain “bottles”, others contain “tablets” — you get the idea). In a nutshell, big companies were shipping multiple high-value products on vastly varying packing lists to remote, decentralized areas with technological limitations, virtually no accountability, and challenged coordination/communication efforts in the field — nobody knew who was getting what, when they got it, and how it got there.

Enter NTDeliver: a tool so smart it standardizes the aggregate data regardless of the source company’s terminology, assigns batches to a contact list based on intended destination, and crawls inputs to trigger alarms ranging from completed deliveries to, you guessed it, Expiry Alarms — so stakeholders in the boardroom and staff in the field get alerts (via email, WhatsApp, SMS, take your pick) ensuring no donated tablet or bottle goes to waste. Oh, and this thing works online and offline because WiFi isn’t always easy to come by in subsaharan Africa.

Together with our pharma partners, The World Health Organization, and our own data management masterminds, we built a new logistics workflow tool that gets more medicines to more people with minimal waste. Suffice it to say, we’re data management experts by day, global supply chain wizards by moonlight. And Expiry Alarms are just one example of how Standard Data can help businesses and organizations of all sizes to do more with data.

Want to learn more? Get in touch here. A real human is standing by to help you reduce waste.