In 2015, spending in the United States’ logistics and transportation industry totaled $1.48 trillion, roughly 8% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
An important part of that industry is pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical logistics. Globally, the pharmaceutical industry does over $1 trillion in business and that number is expected to hit $1.12 trillion by 2022.
While pharmaceutical logistics can safely and effectively get medications to manufacturers and customers, there are several problems facing the industry as it becomes increasingly complex:
- Lack of Coordination: As a global industry, having a coordinated supply chain is important, but this is far from easy. As people are always in need of medications, they may turn to cheaper or fake alternatives if they are available and the authentic brands will be hurt.
- Controlling the Temperature: Many pharmaceutical products must be kept at a certain temperature while in transit and can decrease in effectiveness if they are not. A popular method of transportation for pharmaceuticals is through cold chain delivery. Cold chain delivery involves transporting frozen or refrigerated products and this is a growing industry. In 2017, cold chain delivery and cold chain logistics was a $13.4 billion industry and has seen steady growth in recent years.
- Supply Chain Management: Currently the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t really rely on logistics to handle supply chain management and markets in places like South America and Asia are expected to dominate this aspect of the industry.
- Warehouse Management: The growth of the global pharmaceutical market has led to an increase in supplies and the need for more warehouses. While warehouses help house supplies, the need for logistics is becoming more important in this area. If logistics operations are outsourced, this gives a company less direct control over operations, which leads to fears of deteriorating service. The use of IT and management systems are a growing trend in pharmaceutical logistics, but are not at high levels.
When it comes to cold shipping solutions, there are several factors to keep in mind. For starters, cold shipping solutions aren’t just about keeping items cold as they travel; they’re also about how to protect items like pharmaceuticals from extreme weather and other hazards during the transit process. This is especially true of pharmaceutical transit as a temperature fluctuation of just 2 degrees Celsius can greatly reduce or completely eliminate the effectiveness of medications, vaccines and other important medical items.
For cold shipping solutions, it’s important to use the following steps to make sure your pharmaceuticals are shipped correctly and are well protected:
- Get an experienced carrier: Many multi-national companies offer cold storage boxes for keeping items cool during transit. But when it comes to pharmaceuticals, all the packing in the world can be for naught if a carrier is inexperienced at handling medications and vaccines.
- Know the rules: Shipping for cool items like pharmaceuticals will likely be subject to some regulations and it’s important to know exactly what those are.
- Pack it up right: For pharmaceuticals, it’s important to maintain a certain temperature and that requires the right packaging materials. Insulated foam containers and refrigerated containers work well, but do some research before you ship anything.
- Pick the right coolant: Part of the proper packing process includes picking the right coolant (think gel packs or dry ice). Keep in mind that dry ice works best for keeping things frozen and gel packs work best for maintaining a certain temperature. Make sure the coolant is secure inside the packaging.
- Keep an eye on things: If you’re shipping sensitive pharmaceuticals, you might want to add a temperature monitor into the packaging to make sure a certain temperature is maintained.
- Go with fast shipping: When looking at cold shipping solutions, overnight shipping is a great option for getting things where you need them to go and fast.
- Track the shipment: Once you’ve sent your shipment on its way, make sure to get a tracking number so you can keep track of where it’s going and when it’s expected to reach its final destination.
As the global pharmaceutical industry continues to grow, so too will the need for effective logistics for storage conditions for pharmaceuticals. Having a coordinated supply chain is important as is a working method of controlling the temperature of pharmaceutical products when they are transported.