1. What is driving demand for pharmaceutical cold chain logistics?

Most of the major trends that are shaping the pharma sector at the moment mean an increase in the need for temperature-controlled logistics. You have the huge ongoing expansion in biopharmaceuticals, which tend to be products that are temperature sensitive, high in value and critical to patient care. Then you have the push to better serve patients and communities in emerging economies. That creates demand for reliable but cost-effective supply chains for a broad range of products. Finally, outside traditional cold chains, which handle frozen or refrigerated products, the desire to improve quality and compliance across the sector is leading companies to apply rigorous handling policies and monitoring strategies to controlled room temperature shipments too.

2. How is DHL responding to this demand?

For us, the development of a robust pharmaceutical logistics offering has been a 30-year journey. Our aim is to provide services that connect stakeholders more effectively, comply with the highest quality and regulatory standards and use innovative approaches to help our clients provide the best possible patient care. We have long recognized the need to provide a consistent, professional service that offers the right infrastructure, the right monitoring, the right process and above all the right people to handle pharmaceutical products at every stage in the supply chain. The operating environment in life sciences involves considerable complexity, especially when it comes to compliance with different policies, guidelines and regulatory regimes. We are fully supportive of the industry’s efforts to promote standardization, for example through the adoption of IATA’s CEIV Pharma certification.  

3. Where are the major opportunities for improving cold  chain logistics performance?

Right now, one big opportunity comes from big data. With our Thermonet services and the large-scale use of temperature logging devices, you could say that we were early adopters of the internet of things. Now we have a large body of real-world data, and the computing power to draw new insights from that data. In the coming years, I think those capabilities will start to deliver real improvements in the quality, cost and reliability of temperature-controlled logistics services.

Published: June 2019

Image: DHL