Expired Anti-Virals, Swine Flu and Collaborative Optimization

Well, it's my first days following retirement from GlaxoSmithKline and I've travelled to Europe to meet with a new client. What a time to be travelling with constant Swine Flu reporting (I mean H1N1) on every major news channel... CNN, Bloomberg, Sky and on and on. Now, one of the good things about being a former employee of GlaxoSmithKline is that I still have my company issued 5 dose pack of the flu anti-viral Relenza (made by GSK).

The bad news is I've just discovered that it "expired" in November of 2007. I wonder how accurate these expiration dates are? I've eaten bread and drank milk long after their "sell date" before with no issues. I wish I knew what Glaxo's policy was on updating Relenza for retiree's!

But seriously, I'm very proud to have been associated with a research based discovery organization that devoted significant research dollars in both anti-virals and vaccines that can be highly effective against this potential pandemic outbreak. I also hope everyone who is still travelling, travels safe.

While this is a major time of uncertainty, one thing that we know for sure is that there is still a lot of savings to be extracted from buying 3rd party goods and services. And this is true even for those organizations that have good procurement practice in place. I've recently witnessed a methodology called "Collaborative Optimization" which leverages technology, supplier innovation and "what if" modeling that drives new savings opportunities even in categories that have been "worked" over and over again with traditional best practice procurement methods.

We'll talk more about this soon in another Spend Matters entry. But it suffices to say, even after decades in the business, that there are new ideas around every corner -- despite both the physical and metaphorical viruses and bacteria that we sometimes need to circumnavigate in our journey along the way.

- Gregg Brandyberry

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