Bonafi wants safer processes in pharma supply chain

Bonafi was started in 2018 by Katarina Antill, who has over 20 years of international corporate experience in biopharma and aviation industries.

It is estimated that one in 10 of all medical products for human use globally is either falsified, counterfeit or substandard, and has the potential to cause serious harm to patients.

This figure varies between geographical areas. In regions with a strong regulatory framework such as the EU, the figure is estimated to be around one per cent, whereas in low-to-middle income countries with a weaker regulatory framework, the number is many times higher.

Falsified and substandard medicines find their way into the pharmaceutical supply chain and can potentially reach patients. The reason for this comes down to a number of issues including substandard manufacturers, suppliers or bogus wholesalers.

Verifying the authenticity and quality of companies trading in medicines for human use is a legal requirement, but it is a manual process and data can be manipulated.

“We are developing a cloud-based solution that aggregates current, on-demand data from official authorities world-wide”

Bonafi, an Irish company started in 2018 by Katarina Antill, is on a mission to keep people safe by helping businesses maximise their ability to maintain the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain.

“We are developing a cloud-based solution that aggregates current, on-demand data from official authorities world-wide,” said Katarine. 

“By using the data in combination with individual user preferences, the system offers unique ways of managing risk by applying constant monitoring and alerts along with end-to-end supply chain visibility with risk heat maps per product and area. 

“All of this is encapsulated in a pharma-regulated and tech validated environment making the system verifiable and acceptable to any regulatory authority in the world. Technologies like machine learning and distributed ledger technology (blockchain) will be applied to further enhance the effectiveness, transparency and security of the application,” she added.

“One of the things that I have learned is to do the groundwork thoroughly before you start developing a feature”

Katarina’s passion for business and entrepreneurship comes from her grandmother, who successfully ran her own business for 35 years.

“She was my role model. She worked hard, was determined and resilient. The idea initially came from issues I had seen during my time working in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years. I started a feasibility study of the Bonafi concept as a part of my MBA studies at DCU and realised immediately that the idea had merit and decided to pursue it.”

She admits that she underestimated the time it would take to develop the Bonafi platform.

“One of the things that I have learned is to do the groundwork thoroughly before you start developing a feature. There is a certain pressure to get something out there quickly – it doesn’t have to be perfect, just get something it out there. And of course, there is merit in that – fail fast and learn quick.

“But you also need to take into consideration the industry you’re in. I am in the business of pharmaceutical compliance and if I am releasing a product that is not meeting standards or the needs of the market, it would do more harm than good. The key is to strike a balance and ensure you are spending your time on the right things,” she continued.

The trials of the company’s first beta release have been completed, taking comments onboard, and Katarina is now preparing for the second beta release and trial.

“We are looking at a commercial release in the first part of 2021 focusing on the Irish and UK markets, closely followed by additional EU markets – such as Germany, France and Italy.

“Having said that – due to the nature of the product, there is nothing preventing companies from other countries to be able to use the product, since it is designed with a global scope in mind.

“I am in the business of pharmaceutical compliance and if I am releasing a product that is not meeting standards or the needs of the market, it would do more harm than good”

Katarina says she has only positive things to say about the Irish start-up ecosystem and finished with a piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“There a couple of things that stand out that helped me enormously. Firstly, surround yourself with trusted advisors. You want to have a circle of people around you that you can trust to always provide you with the feedback you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.  

“The second is to create a network of fellow entrepreneurs that is going through a similar journey as you. The entrepreneurial road can be a very lonely place but sharing that with others really helps,” she concluded.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 19 October, 2020