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
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
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
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
“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
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.”