Pharmaceutical cold chain logistics is a $10-billion global industry

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - March/April 2015

Pharmaceutical Commerce's annual Cold Chain Sourcebook projects 44% growth over the 2013-2019 span

Preliminary analysis of the logistics involved in shipping temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals, conducted annually by Pharmaceutical Commerce, shows that the business will cross the $10.1-billion barrier this year, on its way to $13 billion by 2019. Because comprehensive trade and logistics data often lags by a year, the study’s base year is 2013, and over the 2013—2019 span, the industry will grow from an estimated $9.0 billion in 2013 to $13 billion in the out-year.

“Various market projections show that overall pharma sales will rise by roughly 5% annually to 2019, while cold chain product sales will rise by around 9% per year,” says Nicholas Basta, editor in chief at Pharmaceutical Commerce. “So the overall trend is keeping pretty much on track with past experience, where temperature-controlled product sales have grown at roughly twice the rate of the overall industry, and the logistics spend follows that.”

To perform its analysis, Pharmaceutical Commerce starts with the current lists of approved drugs, and what their labels say for storage and shipping conditions. Drugs in the pipeline are also evaluated to the extent possible. That fraction of approved drugs is then compared to measures of overall pharma sales (from organizations like IMS Health and EvaluatePharma), and overall pharma logistics spend and volumes. Data is broken down according to shipping mode (air, ground, sea), and the spending proportions between transportation, packaging and instrumentation.

“Within the overall trend, there are noticeable evolutions of instrumentation to provide near real-time tracking of drug shipments, and the effects of the EU Good Distribution Practices (GDP) guidelines, which are tightening logistics practices in pharma, specifically for controlled room-temperature shipping,” says Basta.

The Sourcebook also provides projections of clinical trial logistics (not differentiating between cold chain and ambient, as most trials use temperature controls in some part of the process). Trial initiations ticked upward in 2014, following several years of relatively flat growth, and this trend is likely to continue for a few years at least. Overall clinical trial logistics spending is estimated at $3.0 billion in 2015, rising to $3.29 billion in 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 2.5%

Final results will be published in April, when the Sixth Edition of the Biopharma Cold Chain Sourcebook is published. Call 718-282-6112, or write to [email protected], to place a pre-order.

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