Q&A: Upsher-Smith CEO on operating during pandemic

Rusty Field, president and CEO of Upsher-Smith Labs, has been busy. As he navigates the Maple Grove, Minn.-based company through the coronavirus pandemic, he spoke to Drug Store News about how the company is operating, and its efforts to stay on track with its portfolio of products. 

Drug Store News: How are you operating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
RF: As an essential business, we continue to function “normally” in a dynamic environment. Upsher-Smith employees who are able to work remotely have been required to do so, and individuals in critical business functions continue to report to work, but are practicing recommended guidelines, such as social distancing, whenever possible. We also are increasing inventory on key products to ensure quality product supply to our customers and patients. 

In our brand business, the Upsher-Smith sales team maintains its relationships with our physician customers through remote communications. Fortunately, we have a long history of using virtual methods to engage and interact with physicians and their offices. Since the pandemic began, they have ramped up “virtual office visits” with healthcare professionals to ensure physical distancing and to offer physicians flexibility with their own schedules during these unprecedented times.

DSN: What has been the impact of the pandemic on getting FDA approvals of your products?
RF: We have not experienced any significant impact on FDA approvals or delays in communication from the agency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, we kicked off 2020 with the launch of three new generic products: fluvoxamine maleate tablets, haloperidol tablets, and clonidine hydrochloride extended-release tablets. We expect to receive approval for others in the second half of the year. To date, our internal R&D projects are proceeding on track, with some minor delays due to reduced international transportation because of COVID-19 travel restrictions put in place by a number of countries.

DSN: What do you want retailers to know now and for the immediate future?
RF: Upsher-Smith has a long history of quality product supply and strong relationships with our customers. We are focused on the health and safety of our employees, and building up inventory on key products, so that we can continue to deliver a consistent, reliable supply to our customers. We remain committed to delivering quality manufacturing and packaging of our wide array of pharmaceutical products, so that our customers can continue to rely on us to receive critical medications even during these uncertain times.