Over half of specialty pharmaceutical shipments are cold-chain products, says HDMA survey

Annual publication polls manufacturers and distributors on temperature-controlled shipping practices

The newly published 2012 Specialty Pharmaceuticals: Facts, Figures and Trends from the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research (Arlington, VA) provides a broad view of how distribution processes work for the $77.5-billion specialty market, which is grew 8.8% in 2011, well over double the figure for the pharma market as a whole. Specialty distributors handle about 40% of the specialty market, serving roughly 80,000 ship-to points, ranging from hospitals to doctor offices to patient homes.

According to statistics gathered by the Center (a part of the Healthcare Distribution Management Assn., HDMA), 50% of the products, and 59% of the distributor shipments, require temperature control. All specialty distributors use temperature monitors prior to shipment, but only 71% monitor in-transit temperatures, and 57% upon delivery. And while 77% of shippers validate these temperature sensors, 22% “never” do.

The Center also collected data on packaging trends: three quarters of manufacturers now use ice or gel packs (and 38% continue to use dry ice). There is an uptick in the use of recycled coolers, going from 13% to 25% between 2010 and 2011.

The full report is available for purchase from the Center: www.hcsupplychainresearch.org