Kite Pharma: Tracking Critical Cancer Treatment

Since 2009, Kite Pharma has pioneered cell therapy research to change the way cancer is treated. Their focus is on the cure. However, as demand for their treatment has grown, so has the need for a watertight, supply network spanning currently over 20 countries around the globe. Collaboration with Proshore resulted in a bespoke software solution called OPTIcS. So how did it come about?

Designing, building, and completing an entire project of this magnitude online sounded impossible. But with Proshore, we’ve proven otherwise.
Robbert-Jan van Oijen, Kite Pharma
Associate Director Supply Chain

Kite Pharma’s industry-leading cell therapy has a single focus: to treat cancer. Using genetically modified immune cells, they are able to target tumours, and provide a transformational treatment option for cancer.

Specialising in treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, the company has revolutionized cancer treatment. Through their ground-breaking cell therapy, the organization is currently exploring ways to use their expertise to tackle a broader range of cancers. So how does it work?

A patient gives blood, and Kite Pharma extracts the white blood cells (T-cells). These are sent to a Kite manufacturing plant where in 8 to 10 days, the cells are modified. Scientists go into the cells and reprogram the T-cells such that they are able to identify the cancer cells, and eliminate them accordingly. After growing the volume of these engineered cells, they’re ready to be harvested, and frozen at minimum -150 degrees centigrade (using liquid nitrogen).

Once the cells have been checked and quality controlled, to ensure they meet the approved specifications of the European Medications Agency, they’re shipped back to the hospital for infusion into the patient.

Successful treatment using Kite Pharma’s cell therapy relies upon the security and storage of confidential patient information, alongside timely logistical data. That means treatment shipping has to be exactly right, under the right conditions, and at precisely the right time.

For that reason, Kite Pharma needed a supply chain management system that could plan and track shipments of patients’ T-cells to Kite’s manufacturing plants in Los Angeles and Amsterdam – and back again.

The system also needed to provide lead and transit times. This is so the hospitals can arrange for patients to have a course of (pre conditioning) chemotherapy before receiving the engineered cells. The chemotherapy weakens their immune system, so it doesn’t fight against the engineered cells. The hospital also has to arrange an appointment for the infusion, which is done in a single sitting.

The Challenge

There are two key factors that necessitated Kite Pharma needing oversight of their shipments: chain of identity, and chain of custody. Firstly, each batch needs to be clearly identified to the correct patient – so that they receive the correct blood. Kite Pharma also needs to know where each batch is, and where it is going – with no room for error.

Information ranging from GPS location to the temperature of the product is critical in order to meet legal requirements, and to ensure the integrity of the treatment.

When Robbert-Jan van Oijen joined Kite Pharma in its early stages in February 2018, they were just starting to implement an ERP system which had no interface or exchange. It relied on automated email notifications. Not only that, but couriers had their own systems as well, also using similar email notifications. On average, they were receiving 60 automated emails per order, from order booking until final product delivery. Keeping track of batches was almost impossible. They needed a reliable, automated solution.

So Robbert looked for a way to collate all the data, and manage it within a single system. And he started to design a software solution to the company’s logistical problem.

The Solution

By choosing Proshore for such an important Kite Pharma development has proven to be the best thing we could have done. I was given the opportunity to be an important part of the development, and got something in return that meets all our requirements
Robbert-Jan van Oijen, Kite Pharma
Associate Director Supply Chain

So Robbert brought Proshore onboard in a collaborative partnership. One of the things he liked about working with Proshore was how approachable we were, compared to the big IT companies. He had the opportunity to work one-on-one with us, and benefited from fast, responsive, and agile deployment of our ‘development team as a service’ approach to software solutions.

We were completely aligned with his vision, proactive and thoughtful in identifying possibilities and visualising ideas. Not only that, we procured working features that fitted his concept.

In 6 to 8 months, Proshore helped to create a complete supply chain management system, The Order Planning Tracking Information System (OPTIcS). This included a dashboard, and compliance with every requirement necessary for the European market.

The Impact

Since the inception of OPTIcS, Kite Pharma has seen huge gains in transparency and efficiency. It’s used daily by over 300 employees, spread across the globe, who can see exactly where and when everything is.

This has created more reliable viability in terms of lead-in times to treatment. The system even continuously recalculates if there are delays, providing peace of mind, and the ability for Kite Pharma to keep hospitals, and their patients informed with accurate updates.

And with this improved oversight, Kite Pharma is able to offer more timely treatment to critically-ill patients. Latest data shows that approximately 44% of patients, given an average 6 months to live at the start of their treatment, are still alive and in remission 4 years later.

Wondering how Proshore can support your business logistics with our software solutions? Get in touch with us today.