Cold-chain services to global biopharma will be a $7.6-billion industry in 2013, rising to $8.9 billion in 2016


Latest forecast from Pharmaceutical Commerce sees 37% growth between 2010-2013; delays in biosimilars commercialization will hamper future growth

The 3rd annual Biopharma Cold Chain Sourcebook, a market study and guidance resource of this fast-evolving market pioneered by Pharmaceutical Commerce, has just been published. Factoring in global trends in pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution, the study finds that the market for cold chain services (from air, land and sea carriers, third-party logistics firms, and dedicated packaging and instrumentation) was $6.5 billion in 2010, and is projected to rise to $7.6 billion in 2013. Projecting ahead to 2016, the market will be worth $8.9 billion, a 17.1% growth rate during that period.

“Specialty and biotech products are the fastest-growing parts of the overall pharma industry, and the majority of those products require cold chain services, so it follows that this market will continue to grow faster than overall pharma distribution,” says Nicholas Basta, editor of Pharmaceutical Commerce and coauthor of the Sourcebook. At the same time, earlier, more optimistic estimates of the biosimilars market have been tempered by the delays in getting a reliable regulatory framework in place. “When we did the first study, in 2010, various analysts were predicting a biosimilars market of $15 billion in 2015; now, IMS Health is projecting only a $2-2.5-billion market by then,” he says. “Other analyses have shown that the availability of lower-cost biosimilars will expand the overall market for biotech products, and then for cold chain services, but that growth is not occurring as fast as expected in past years.”

Which is not to say that this market is not experiencing explosive growth. A majority of biotech products require refrigerated (2-8°C) storage and transportation, as do most vaccines, blood products and other injectables. Meanwhile, the regulatory requirements for what has traditionally been called “controlled room temperature” (CRT) storage and transportation are tightening—and that covers a majority of all pharmaceuticals. “Manufacturers and distributors are not applying CRT requirements uniformly around the world, but these requirements are showing up in more places for conventional pharma transportation,” says Basta. “In the meantime, the technology to monitor, record and report transportation conditions is advancing rapidly.”

The $7.6-billion cold chain market in 2013 further breaks down to $4.8 billion in transportation services, and $2.8 billion in tertiary (transport-related) packaging and instrumentation. Clinical trial logistics (not a part of the $7.6-billion commercial market) is projected to be $2.67 billion in 2013.

The 245-page Sourcebook includes analysis of regional trends in cold chain services, a review of current and upcoming regulations, and a directory of key suppliers, 3PLs and related logistics services. It is available for purchase; call (+1) 203 831 0711, or email at [email protected]

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