The Lowdown on Logistics

Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - February 2022, Volume 17, Issue 1

Introducing our first deep dive into pharma's indispensable partner—the 3PL

Welcome to Pharmaceutical Commerce’s inaugural issue focused on the world of third-party logistics (3PL) providers. You know, those companies or business units who handle the often unheralded but critical tasks of product storage, fulfillment, transport, inventory management, and more along the pharmaceutical supply chain. And as we explore in our overview feature, and reference on the cover, a new dawning of sorts in the highly competitive field of healthcare/pharma logistics support is emerging (see more coverage here, here, and here).

Change hasn’t happened overnight, of course, but you get the feeling when absorbing fresh insights from 3PL executives and supply-chain experts—and factoring in a playing field fundamentally altered by a global pandemic—that real strides are afoot. The “rise of specialized” has continued, with companies expanding 3PL services and new-tech offerings in temperature-controlled storage, sample collection and drug serialization, just to name a few; all designed to meet the evolving demands of specialty pharmaceuticals—whether vaccines, biologics, cancer-fighting immunotherapies, or cell and gene-based drugs.

This has necessitated the movement of products through alternative distribution channels, requiring specialized monitoring, handling, storage and transportation. Thus, the mission of today’s 3PL provider is clear: “Work in lockstep with their pharma clients, to be a necessary part of the business,” as ICS’s Albert Cooksey tells contributing editor Suzanne Shelley (ICS is a division of AmerisourceBergen).

Reportedly, the pharma logistics market is expected to more than double in size from $71.9 billion in 2020 to $159 billion by 2030. So there appears to be plenty of room and opportunity for companies to make their mark, if they can differentiate what they bring to the table. That includes 3PLs. Indeed, a new dawn.

In closing, perhaps you caught the news on our website, but I would be remiss not to mention a leadership change at Pharmaceutical Commerce. I’ve been promoted to group managing editor, and taking the helm as PC editorial director is Julian Upton, a longtime editor at sister publication Pharmaceutical Executive. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished at PC since our parent company, MJH Life Sciences, acquired the brand in July 2020 (many thanks to my PC colleagues in editorial, sales and production).

PC remains in capable hands, and I look forward to its continued growth under Julian’s stewardship. Look for his formal introduction on these pages in the next issue.

Michael Christel is Pharmaceutical Commerce's former Editorial Director, and is currently Group Managing Editor at MJH Life Sciences. He can be reached at mchristel@mjhlifesciences.com.