Issue 3 2021 - Freight Business Journal
///PHARMA For example, we recently
What have freight forwarders been doing in the pharmaceutical and temperature-controlled segment of the life sciences industry and how do they see things developing in the future? CH Robinson vice president Europe global forwarding, Ivo Aris, shares his views from a European perspective.
The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in significant challenges for logisticians around the globe. Pharmaceutical shippers have reported substantial increases in problems covering all aspects of the supply chain, such as drug shortages, increased production costs and the deterioration in on- time, in-full delivery of medicines. Supply and demand are erratic, while collaboration – usually a hallmark of efficient supply
chains – is constrained because of the restraints in sharing accurate data.
Maximising supply chain
visibility has become the mainstay in tackling these challenges and is one of the most important areas where our customers request support. The technology that allows shippers to use real-time visibility data has enabled pharma and medical supply manufacturers to rapidly
Compliance is key, says Yusen pharma chief
With increasing focus on biotechnology,
are demanding higher levels of compliance in all areas of pharmaceutical transport and logistics operations, particularly for new products that may be much more susceptible to temperature deviations, says James Colson, AstraZeneca global key account director at Yusen Logistics (UK). “Added to this, sustainability
is also a major area of focus for many pharma companies and how they can mitigate the impact of transporting medicinal products across the globe,” he says. Due to the pandemic, many
pharmaceutical companies are also considering decentralising their production to reduce their dependence on one location to support their global supply. Linked to this there will also be a rise in the use of and need for regional hubs to ensure optimum levels of inventory are maintained in each region. At the moment, the Covid
vaccine is dominating all discussion of pharma freight, but it is by no means the whole market. “Part of the big challenge for pharma companies was to ensure product availability during the pandemic. Currently Covid vaccines are clearly high on the agenda but other therapies are equally as important and there
unmet medical need which companies are investing huge
amounts to develop therapies for. “As soon as new vaccines are
approved, production is back up to speed and local acceptable inventory levels are reached, the supply of the vaccine will return to business as usual and the logistics market can again focus on other challenges and improvement and innovation projects.” Colson says that visibility of
orders and live temperature reporting and GSP data is increasingly becoming a key requirement for pharma companies. As regulatory standards increase, new methods for ensuring compliance are being developed, be that through process improvements and qualifications such as CEIV or new thermal packaging solutions. There is also a clear push to reduce emissions and optimise load fill through consolidation centres as part of the sustainability agenda. The pandemic has diverted
attention from the enforcement of serialisation under the Falsified Medicines Directive to fight against counterfeit drugs. Under the scheme, each pack has a number entered in a database which gets decommissioned when the pharmacist dispenses it. For now, Covid 19 vaccines
do not have to comply with this regulation but this will also change in the near future.
switch from response to recovery following disruptions in supply chains.
This innovation is critical for the
transportation of temperature- controlled cargo. Being able to tap into live data, such as temperature or location, on the go supports proactive decision making on temperature-controlled cargo throughout the supply chain. The
way that our understanding, application, and
evolution of this technology in the pharma and temperature- controlled market will evolve is through trusted collaboration. Organisations with professionals who possess complementary strengths in logistics, technology, and specialist knowledge in pharma transportation are likely to come together in the future to identify hurdles to supply chain efficiency and, more importantly, overcome them.
Testing times keep air charter firm busy
So far, movements of the vaccine have not been the dominant theme of the Covid 19 story at UK-based broker Air Charter Service, says group cargo director Dan Morgan- Evans. Speaking in mid-March, he told FBJ: “We have handled a few shipments, but the volumes so far aren’t vast. However, we have done some shipments to smaller island countries in Europe, mostly on light aircraſt or private jets.” ACS routinely ships urgent
consignments of all types around the world on small aircraſt such as Cessnas or Metros, many of which operate in freighter mode with seats removed. The car industry has traditionally been a big customer of such aircraſt, but they are available for urgent and one-off pharma shipments too. What has been a bigger Covid- related traffic for ACS up till now
has been shipment of testing kits and, to a now diminishing extent, PPE. Demand for kits is still very brisk; the UK alone is testing schoolkids twice a week, and with 5-7,000 kits per cubic metre, that’s quite a bit of airfreight, Mr Evans points out. Whether the Covid vaccine movement does
generate significant amounts of business for ACS remains to be seen, he says. “We have had some enquiries for charters, and there may be some business from the UN or governments from the Covax scheme,” he says. In more normal times, ACS did
see some work from the pharma industry. It tended not to get involved in regular shipments, which could usually be handled by the scheduled carriers, but there was business from new
formed an alliance with the Microsoſt Corporation to combine our Navisphere multi-modal transportation management platform with Microsoſt’s Azure cloud platform and Internet of Things. The result? A platform with enhanced real time insights and visibility to support predictive analytics, for greater intelligence on transporting products whilst in transit – such as temperature- controlled items, and premier data
security. Only through
knowledge exchange and transfer can we develop the technology and systems required for effective visibility in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry overall. We also detect a trend towards
even greater quality assurance related to Good Distribution Practices (GDP) certification.
Manufacturers want to know that medicine storage and distribution is compliant with high standards. As reflected by our GDP certification in Ireland and Spain, and in more countries soon, like the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy, this mark of assurance is becoming an expectation of logistics providers in Europe, rather than a ‘nice to have’. As the pandemic continues to
unfold, growth and investment in technological innovation is vital to respond effectively to the ongoing challenges and changing customer behaviours arising from Covid-19. Access to real time, rich data, and investment in supply chain visibility technology is no longer an option, it is a must for every pharma business and their shippers.
product launches and the like. However, Covid vaccines aside, these are currently at a low ebb. However, taking all movements
including testing kits into account, its pharma business is currently higher than normal overall. ACS’s overall business has
meanwhile been boosted by the shortage of space caused by the removal of most scheduled long- haul flights and their belly hold capacity. While some of these may be restored as travel restrictions ease, many services could still be
missing come the fourth quarter of the year and this could lead to a tightening of the market and more business for ACS, Mr Evans predicts. Some of the capacity that has been taken out of the market cannot be restored at the stroke of a pen, he suggests. Cash- strapped
airlines have taken
the opportunity to withdraw older aircraſt and their eventual replacements, if any, will be new planes that are not currently even in production yet.
Turkish Cargo and Kuehne + Nagel have delivered 1.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from India to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on behalf of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The Turkish airline has also
moved hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 syringes for UNICEF
from Barcelona to Tunisia and Covid-19 vaccines from Amsterdam to Kiev, Tbilisi and Amman. In the past months it has
also delivered China’s Sinovac vaccines to destinations around the world, on its ‘TK Pharma’ product. The
serves over 400 destinations with a fleet of 365 aircraft.
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