Läkemedelsverket – Delivering life-saving information

Dahl – Enhancing performance and availability for the Logistics Operation
2016-10-27

Medical Products Agency

Delivering life-saving information on drug toxicity with help from IBM and Shibuya

Created in 1990 in Uppsala, Sweden, and known in Swedish as Läkemedelsverket, the Medical Products Agency (MPA) is the Swedish national authority responsible for authorizing the sale of pharmaceuticals and natural remedies, as well as cosmetics, hygiene products and medical devices. With 600 employees, the agency is one of the largest regulatory authorities in Sweden. To ensure that patients and healthcare professionals have access to safe, effective medical products, the MPA carries out a broad range of regulatory and supervisory duties – almost all of which are supported by its IT infrastructure.

Supporting critical services
As Per Djerf, Head of IT Operations at the Medical Products Agency, explains: “Our main activities center around the approval of new medicines, which involves systematically reviewing a large number of materials such as recommendations, laboratory analyses and compilations of adverse drug reactions. In addition, we have a business unit dedicated to the inspection of product development laboratories at the pharmaceutical companies themselves. To support these activities, we run a number of line-of-business applications in house.”

He continues: “Because drug approval materials often represent more than ten years of work for pharmaceutical companies, it is critical that we have systems in place to ensure the security and availability of this data.” Alongside its responsibilities for drug approvals, the MPA manages the largest database of toxic drug interactions in Sweden. “We operate a 24/7 advice desk – enabling medical personnel to call day or night to find out the interactions, complications and recommended course of action if a certain drug has been ingested,” says Per Djerf. “Because we often get emergency calls from ambulance crews and other medical personnel, it is vital that our team is able to use the toxics database to deliver answers rapidly, as lives may depend on it.”

Designing a fresh infrastructure
With an IT refresh on the horizon, the MPA decided to review potential infrastructure solutions from a number of different vendors. “We needed a solution that was capable of supplying the performance, availability and reliability required to deliver a high level of service to our end users,” says Per Djerf. “Our data requirements have been steadily increasing too, so we wanted a scalable storage platform that was capable of meeting our immediate data-management requirements.”

The MPA chose an IBM solution based on POWER7® processor- based systems and an IBM Storwize® V7000 solution, and engaged IBM Premier Business Partner Shibuya to help design, deploy and configure the solution. “We selected the IBM Power Systems™ platform because it offered us the optimal performance, capacity and availability we needed to meet our requirements,” says Per Djerf. “Furthermore, our IT team was already familiar with IBM technology, so were confident that an IBM solution would generate less capital expense and business risk than one from a vendor we had not worked with before.”

IBM Power Systems solution
Together with Shibuya, the MPA implemented two IBM Power 720 Express servers running the IBM AIX® operating system and virtualized with IBM PowerVM® hypervisor technology. The agency deployed the servers in a high-availability configuration using IBM PowerHA® SystemMirror® for AIX – ensuring the availability of critical data and services. To meet its growing data requirements, the MPA chose an IBM Storwize® V7000 with two IBM System Storage® N6210 controllers. The increased storage capacity of the new solution enables the MPA to defer investment in additional storage hardware for at least 18 months.

With the new infrastructure in place, Shibuya helped the MPA to migrate its applications and Oracle databases from the previous IBM Power Systems platform to the new solution. With the migration completed, the agency ran both systems in parallel for nine months. After this comprehensive testing phase, the previous solution was switched off. “We were extremely impressed with the work of the Shibuya team,” says Per Djerf. “Thanks to Shibuya’s expertise, we were able to complete the implementation on schedule, and with no disruption to our day-to-day business activities. Our relationship with Shibuya is still strong today, and we turn to them for IT support and consulting services when required.”

Delivering life-saving information
With its new IBM solution in place, the MPA has achieved its goal of creating an infrastructure with high performance, availability and storage capacity – enabling the agency to continue to deliver an excellent service for its users. “All of our line-of-business applications and Oracle databases now run on our Power 720 servers and reside on the IBM Storwize V7000,” says says Per Djerf. “The reliability of our IBM solutions has been and continues to be excellent. In the unlikely event of an issue with our production server, IBM PowerHA gives us the confidence that we can fail over to the backup server rapidly – helping us to ensure that our toxics database is always available in emergency situations.”

The IBM solution also helps the agency to reduce reputational risk. Per Djerf comments: “Using IBM SnapManager, we have reduced the time required to restore individual files from days to just a matter of hours. If important drug approval materials were accidentally deleted, this feature would help us to restore them rapidly. SnapManager greatly reduces the potential risk of reputational damage, which would have serious consequences for a regulatory authority in the healthcare industry.” He concludes: “Today, our IBM Power Systems solution from Shibuya helps us to support almost all of our regulatory and supervisory responsibilities – and to deliver life-saving advice on drug toxicity rapidly in emergency situations.”