AmerisourceBergen World Courier opens new distribution center in Australia

First of what are expected to be many global 3PL sites, especially for specialty pharmaceuticals

Following through on plans announced when AmerisourceBergen purchased World Courier, which has been primarily a clinical-trial logistics provider, in 2012, and reiterated since then, the company has announced the opening of its first clinical/commercial logistics site, in Melbourne, Australia. World Courier—as well as others in the burgeoning clinical trial logistics space—have been building out facilities and depots for much of the past decade; now, the new Melbourne site will handle commercial shipments as well.

Between the World Courier acquisition and now, AmerisourceBergen has entered into a comprehensive sourcing and distribution agreement with Walgreens Alliance Boots—which puts AmerisourceBergen at the forefront of global drug distribution.

John Butler, president of World Courier, noted that the company has been piloting commercial deliveries of specialty products-including in Australia—previously. The difference now is integrating the third-party logistics (3PL) services as developed by ICS, another business unit of AmerisourceBergen, into the World Courier system. (World Courier has 13 depots around the world, and offices in 150 countries.)

“This is just the latest and most visible example of the growing synergies between AmerisourceBergen’s core capabilities and World Courier’s global reach,” said Doug Cook, president of Global Specialty Logistics at AmerisourceBergen, in a statement. “It’s exactly the vision we had in mind when AmerisourceBergen purchased World Courier in 2012. We’re taking World Courier’s local market knowledge and specialty logistics expertise and combining it with the supply chain and commercialization experience that AmerisourceBergen is renowned for in North America.”

From one perspective, the development represents a new level in drug wholesaling and distribution—it’s possible that AmerisourceBergen will begin direct wholesaling in Australia and other parts of the world. From another, World Courier will now be competing head-to-head with global 3PL providers like UPS, FedEx or DHL. World Courier’s (and ICS’) expertise in specialty pharmaceuticals, which require a higher degree of handling than non-specialty products, will certainly be a factor in who wins new business; the global 3PLs are also building out specialized services as well.