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Five Cold Chain Trends Shaping 2017

Heading into 2016, lifescience cold chain trends to watch included passive vs active bulk shippers and the growth of biologics and biosimilars and the patent cliff. Some of these trends will continue into 2017, but here are five additional trends shaping the lifescience cold chain.

  1. Increased patient-centric approach within the pharma industry
    As biologic and specialty pharma continue to evolve and patients take more control of their treatments, we’ll continue to see an increase in a patient-centric approach by the pharma industry. Sometimes called “patient-centric treatments,” this is the next step within biologics pharmaceutical development and these are primarily gene-based therapies, blood derivatives, etc. With many of these biologics requiring rigid/tight temperature control, expect to see increased consideration of the patient impacting all areas of treatment delivery, including logistics

  2. Continued consolidation of the carrier market
    On the heels of some recent 3PL acquisitions of specialty couriers by carriers, expect to see continued activity by other companies with the goal of gaining both expertise and market share in the lifescience industry. There are other players that fit into this industry as well and they could be acquired by a carrier to round out their offerings in 2017.

  3. Continued consolidation of the cold chain shipping and packaging industry
    As key players look to expand offerings and presence in new markets, expect 2017 to yield more consolidation in the cold chain shipping and packaging industry. For example, companies that excel in providing parcel-size packaging will likely try to introduce other sizes or technologies, just as those who hold market share in one location will likely look to merge with or acquire companies allowing them space in new markets.

  4. Maximization of reusable and single-use packaging based on purpose Although reusable packaging is becoming increasingly common, utilizing that aspect in single-use shippers is being more closely evaluated. Businesses are seeking to develop the services needed to support a model involving the flexibility of both single-use and reusable temperature-controlled packaging. Expect stakeholders to try and balance their packaging by lane, by using a combination of reusable and single-use packaging in the new year.

  5. Savvy companies will look for competitive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
    Measuring a good TCO on both single-use and reusable temperature-controlled packaging will become increasingly important as the cold chain logistics horizon changes. Freight and storage cost considerations will cause companies to re-evaluate good volumetric efficiency of payload to outer dimensions and weight of packaging. As companies begin to calculate TCO through actual costs of shipping and storing, look for them to reexamine their current strategies.

—Author Kevin Lawler is the VP of Worldwide Sales at Pelican BioThermal

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