West Pharmaceutical Services – Committed to Service and Innovation

As an integral part of the pharmaceutical industry, West Pharmaceutical Services has played an indispensable role in the global pandemic.

West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc (West) is a leading global manufacturer in the design and production of technologically advanced, high-quality, integrated containment and delivery systems for injectable medicines.

Headquartered in Exton, Pennsylvania, USA, the company has some 50 locations, including 25 manufacturing facilities around the world, employing 10,000 team members. With 40 billion components and devices produced each year, its global impact on lives is significant.

As a partner to established and emerging drug developers, West offers proprietary packaging, containment and drug delivery products including stoppers, plungers and seals for injectable packaging systems, as well as a syringe and cartridge components.

Tradition meets innovation

Founded in 1923, the company is approaching its 100th anniversary and is ready to celebrate the milestone with pride.

“Over the course of our history, we have become a leading provider in our field, helping established and emerging drug developers around the world to manage ever-changing market needs and demands through consistent delivery of innovative solutions and services,” says CFO, Bernard Birkett.

He explains that West works with pharma companies from concept to patient, providing products at various levels of the process depending on what the client requires.

“We are involved from the very beginning – we actually help clients to figure out what type of packaging they need. Needless to say, we operate to the highest levels of quality, protecting against contamination when the medicine interacts with the elastomer in order to sustain the integrity of the medicine being delivered to patients. There is a real science behind this, something we have developed over quite a number of years.”

He points out that continuous innovation is an integral part of the strategy, applying the latest scientific findings. Just recently, West received an important recognition, winning the INTERPHEX Best Technologies Innovation for its NovaGuard® SA Pro needle safety system.

The company is proud not only of its innovative focus but also of its consideration for the environment.

“Sustainability is something we have been working on for many years. This applies not only to our products but also to the way they are manufactured. We have set ourselves ambitious global targets in areas where we feel we can make the greatest impact, e.g., reducing energy intensity by 15%, reducing absolute emissions by 10%, reducing water intensity by 10%, and reducing waste-to-landfill by 90% by 2023.”

Handling the Covid-19 challenge

West is one of the companies for which the global pandemic was a game-changer. Given its level of support to the global vaccine programme, the pandemic tested the company’s ability to quickly secure additional capacity to meet the ever-increasing demand.

The test was passed with flying colours.  West invested in capacity expansion in May 2020 to boost production in some of its European, US and Asian sites, with more investment following in December 2020 and again in mid-2021.

“Keeping pace with the demand has been a challenge for many parts of the organisation, making sure we had enough labour and were maintaining a safe environment for our team members. We have recruited over 2,000 new people over this period, with our existing team members working at their best, fully aware of the urgency and the role the company is playing for society at a global level,” says Galway-man Bernard.

He admits that the supply chain network coming under considerable pressure presented another challenge, which has been handled well, thanks to the company’s long-term relationships with its partners.

“Ultimately, we had the right material in stock and logistics remained robust so that the products could get out to customers as efficiently as possible,” he affirms, admitting that a lot of hard work went into ensuring this and praising the dedication of the suppliers who went out of their way to accommodate West’s needs, given the importance of the task.

Supporting the society

The last few months of 2021 have been just as busy, as the company continues to experience dramatically increased demand, both Covid-related and from its core business. In addition to vaccines, West is also supplying primary packaging components for therapeutics used to treat Covid-19, as well as critical components that are included in some of the diagnostic kits that are used to detect Covid-19.

More investment has been dedicated to enabling further capacity growth, as well as internal restructuring to better suit tomorrow’s requirements.

Just recently, the company doubled the workforce at its Waterford plant in Ireland that supplies millions of stoppers to global Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers. As part of the Covid-19 vaccines programme in 2021, these products will be used to package over a billion vaccine doses in multi-dose vials.

The company also recently established a new global finance shared-service model which centralises West’s key finance activities in Dublin and Exton, Pennsylvania, to drive efficiency and support increasing company growth. West now employs over a thousand team members across Ireland, including its manufacturing facilities in Waterford and Dublin.

Birkett pointed out that the new finance service centre in Dublin will ultimately support the company’s overall mission to improve patient lives: “This new finance support model enables our overall business strategy of responding and transforming to meet the changing needs of the market to deliver high-quality components and service to our customers that will ultimately improve more patient lives—and that’s what matters most.”

“It has been a very challenging two years for all of our 10,000 colleagues but I believe the positive impact we have made for the global society in the long term is enormous. We are lucky to be in this position.”

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