Pharmaceutical Packaging Logistics: Debating Air vs Sea Freight

Benefits and challenges of both options to be addressed in Messe Frankfurt, Germany during the 15th Annual Cool Chain Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe event.

The value of a pharmaceutical can be a key factor in determining the best option for shipping it.

At a recent PDA Europe conference, Healthcare Packaging Publisher Jim Chrzan noted, “While ocean is preferred for low-value products (presumably in larger volumes), vaccines still go primarily by air, although that segment saw a slight modal shift from air to ocean.”

As the life sciences industry focuses on the most cost effective way to manage temperature-controlled supply chains, one of the biggest changes seen is the consideration to move products via ocean as opposed to air.

Air freight offers quick delivery and compliance assistance. An “Optimising Airfreight" eBook highlights the benefits of airfreight and how to optimize them.

A Jan. 15, 2015 outsourcing-pharma.com story, “Ocean rises for drug transportation due to cost and cold chain concerns,” reported, “AstraZeneca and Baxter are opting to transport pharmaceuticals by ocean and land routes as costs and cold chain security drive a drop in air freight.”

A press release touting the Jan. 25 – 28, 2016 15th Annual Cool Chain Temperature Controlled Logistics Europe event said the following:

“When the costs of airfreight are considered too high, some pharmaceutical and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient manufacturers consider sea freight as a viable alternative for some product lines. But mastering sea freight in no easy feat. In theory, sea freight results in fewer links in the supply chain, less risks oftemperature excursions,and other cost benefits.”

The event will address the air freight vs sea freight issue with sessions by IATA, GSK Biologics, OOCL, and feedback from the European Pharma Ocean Freight Working Group, all aimed at helping the industryunderstand the benefits and challenges of airfreight and sea freight as viable transportation method. The event agenda may be downloaded here.

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