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The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) wanted a technology platform to power the new European Union (EU) European Medicines Verification System (EMVS). Microsoft Gold Partner Solidsoft Reply and Windows Azure were selected to develop and operate the multimillion-euro system. The cloud-based service is highly cost effective and can easily scale to more than 10 billion transactions of medicines in pharmacies throughout the EU.
"We look forward to the start of the implementation of the European Medicines Verification System. Patients need to be able to trust in the medicines they take and this is a timely and important step towards finding a solution to the urgent problem of counterfeiting in the EU. Microsoft and Solidsoft Reply will enable us to deliver a system that is robust, secure and cost-effective".
Brussels-based EFPIA represents the pharmaceutical industry operating in the EU. Through its direct membership of 33 national associations and 39 leading pharmaceutical companies, the EFPIA speaks for 1,900 companies committed to researching, developing, and bringing new medicines to market.
In 2011, the EU passed the Falsified Medicines Directive, obliging all drug companies to make their medicines verifiable at point of dispense across the EU, so that patients and their representatives can be assured that they’re genuine. The new system will apply to all medicines dispensed throughout EU nations.
The EFPIA founded the European Stakeholder Model (ESM) partners group with three other organisations that collectively represent 2,800 European pharmaceutical companies. They wanted to commission a technology platform that would be robust, secure, and cost effective. Richard Bergström, Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), says: "Patients need to be able to trust in the medicines they take. We’re all productively engaged in ensuring patients have access to medicines of the highest quality".
The European hub for the EMVS will connect to a series of national data repositories, which serve as verification platforms and use the native languages of each country. Pharmacies and other registered parties can use the national repositories to check a product’s authenticity.
The system will be interoperable between the various countries. It will allow for the reconciliation of products traded between EU member states, as well as for multicountry medicine pack management through the European hub.
After an extensive tender process—which initially attracted 20 service providers—the ESM technical team chose Solidsoft, using Windows Azure for the delivery platform. Solidsoft Reply was the only bidder to propose using a solution with a fully public cloud-based back-office infrastructure on Windows Azure with Windows 8. Solidsoft has many years of experience creating secure systems for enterprise, government, and defence agencies, which positions it to deliver an initial five-year service support. Garth Pickup, Chief Executive Officer, Solidsoft Reply, says: "The cloud has changed the dynamics of large IT projects such as this. The almost limitless scale provided by Windows Azure means that this massive project can be delivered to the EFPIA at much lower cost than an on-premises solution. It’s an exciting time to be a service provider. With the power of Microsoft cloud technology and data centres, we can take on big projects of this kind and win against larger competitors".
Solidsoft Reply invested heavily in prototypes during the bidding process. Pickup says: "Windows Azure was the perfect platform for the EMVS because it supports rapid application development of massively scalable solutions through its platform as a service (PaaS) offering. Solutions are easy to deploy, cost effective to operate, and highly secure and robust".
Pickup believes that Solidsoft Reply wouldn’t have won this contract without a cloud-based solution. "Instead of the usual model, where a large systems integrator would win the operations business and then sub-contract the development work, Solidsoft will do most of this itself. Thanks to Windows Azure, we don’t need huge numbers of people. It’s great for small and medium-sized development shops—it means they can compete effectively against large systems integrators, giving customers more choice," he says.
The EFPIA has signed a five-year contract with Solidsoft Reply to deliver a robust, secure, and cost-effective platform based on Windows Azure to respond to the 2011 EU Falsified Medicines Directive. The use of the public cloud helps lessen risk in the project because no large investment in physical infrastructure is required. The project is vital to the future health of 500 million EU citizens.
EFPIA signs five-year initial support contract with Solidsoft Reply. The five-year contract between the EFPIA and Solidsoft to implement EMVS marks a new step in the fight against falsified medicines in the EU. Bergström says: "We look forward to the start of the implementation of the EMVS—this is a timely solution to the urgent problem of falsified medicines throughout the EU".
Windows Azure helps innovative companies, regardless of size, deliver critical projects. Mark Smith, Director for Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft UK, says: "The EFPIA has Windows Azure and the vast computing resources of Microsoft data centres around the world at its disposal. We’re delighted to be working with Solidsoft on a project of such importance to the health of 500 million EU citizens".
Solidsoft Reply solution scales to meet demand. Pickup says: "Windows Azure will easily scale to the 10 billion transactions it will handle each year in real time. Better care and outcomes for more people is what we’re striving for through the EMVS".
Patients gain greater peace of mind about medicines. Pickup adds: "The EMVS is an important new solution that will give people greater protection and peace of mind. Solidsoft Reply is proud to be working with the ESM partners to combat the threat of falsified medicines across Europe, to the ultimate benefit of so many people".