LogiPharma Europe 2024: UPS Healthcare VP of Sales Talks Technology and Sustainability


In an interview with Pharma Commerce Editor Nicholas Saraceno, Cathy O'Brien, VP of Sales, UPS Healthcare discusses current technology that the pharma industry is adopting when it comes to sustainability.

PC: What technology in the sustainability space are players in the industry adopting?

O’Brien: I think we need to do a lot more. When I look at what is here at LogiPharma, and when we look at what's available on the market, the big focus continues to be the container providers. We see all the packaging companies, the container companies, they're all investing in new technology that's more sustainable. How do you get a more sustainable cold chain container? That’s kind of been the story for last few years around sustainability. Obviously, vehicles are becoming more sustainable. We know that there's the big talk about sustainable aviation fuel. But for us, we're really looking at how can you use an efficient network to avoid waste. It’s linked to the masterclass. Today, we showed in the masterclass that $36 billion worth of drug product is wasted every year because of broken cold chain. So, you can adopt all these containers, which is fantastic and make them sustainable. But if you're still going to have to overproduce, oversupply, and waste and destroy product, it's not sustainable. You need to look to look at the grassroots problem, which is that we have a network that doesn't work for moving pharma product. How do you remove that waste out of the supply chain? Again, for me, that’s an area where we need to do a lot more work and investment on which we talked about today in our master class. But the innovations in technology for example, how do you make sure that an aircraft is fully utilized? That's another area where we work on heavily. We have what we call the smart logistics network and an Orion technology. That technology basically ensures that our drivers take the fastest route, they use less miles, they're for you using less fuel. Also, we’re building very efficient networks, like our aircraft, our trucks, they leave full so we’re not wasting space. When you say what technology is out there, I haven't really seen and maybe I haven't walked around enough today, but I haven’t really seen anything unique in the technology space here that we aren’t already using. What I have seen when talking to pharma companies is that more of them are actually adopting the technology that is out there with the new containers, so that’s cool. But I do think that it’s kind of superficial and we need to make sure that we're looking at the root cause of the problem, which is overcomplicated supply chains, overproduction of the product, and not managing some of that risk, so that you don’t have to basically waste product, which is not sustainable from a cost perspective, from a transport perspective, etc.

PC: Why are control and transparency so critical in the healthcare logistics space?

O’Brien: At the end of the day, it's the patients, right? When you think about it, the product is going to the patient. If you don’t have the control and visibility on the whole chain along the way and if you know how long it sat on the tarmac for, then you know this patient is at the end of it. Controlling visibility is very important for a few reasons. The data needs to be able to act if there's a problem and to serve the patient as quickly as possible with the drug that they need. We talked in the masterclass about decision making. Being able to make those decisions earlier will lead back to a lot more of an efficient supply chain. In a way, it’s all interconnected. Control and visibility allow the manufacturers to produce what they need to produce when they need to produce it, supply it where it needs to go, but also manage the issues before they occur. The more data we have, the more control, the more visibility than the better decisions we all can make in order to make sure we're serving the patient at the end of at the end of the supply chain, which is what is most important.

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