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As Temperature-Controlled Product Growth Surges Ahead, Distribution Ranges Increase

Survey depicts three key trends for biopharma—increasing quality demands, expanding distribution range, and optimizing total cost of ownership. 44.6% respondents reported multiple temperature excursions per year.

Pelican BioThermal, a supplier in temperature-controlled packaging, surveyed leaders in the biopharmaceutical industry on emerging cold chain challenges. The 2019 Biopharma Cold Chain Logistics Survey report details findings revealing the concerns, trends, and technologies that are top-of-mind for leaders in biopharma production and distribution.

“As growth continues across the global pharmaceutical industry, the sub-category of temperature-controlled products is surging ahead—growing at twice the rate of the industry overall,” says David Williams, President of Pelican BioThermal. “Our survey reveals what matters to biopharma leaders—and what it means for the future—as the industry deals with the rapid growth and complexity of temperature-controlled logistics.”

The survey uncovered three key trends driving top concerns around cold chain logistics. One trend is increasing quality demands as more sensitive products bring logistics complexity and greatly expanded risk. While awareness of temperature-controlled requirements is high, the survey results find that temperature excursions happen frequently—and they’re not always minor.

  • 44.6% respondents reported multiple temperature excursions per year
  • 41% reported their excursions exceeded four degrees.

The majority of survey respondents value temperature and location tracking as part of their quality assurance process, however only one in four respondents uses this type of monitoring.

Another trend is the expanding distribution range as products move further and through more climactic zones. More than half of survey respondents (51.8%) regularly ship products internationally—creating an increasingly complex web of local, regional, and international connections that require a broad range of transport modes.

Air and ground transport remain the most common transportation modes, but many of the survey respondents are leveraging a flexible portfolio that includes increasing sea and rail transport.

The final trend is the need to optimize total cost of ownership (TCO) due to relentless competition and margin pressures. These pressures are leading organizations to take a closer look at defining TCO in their logistics and supply chain operations.

  • 70% of survey respondents agree that TCO is important or very important
  • 10% still focus on basic packaging costs and transport rates.

A better understanding of TCO increasingly drives biopharma organizations to recognize the benefits of reusable containers to protect and deliver their highly sensitive products, according to the company.

  • 79% of survey respondents said reusable containers—though more expensive than single-use containers—are worth the investment.
  • 37.6% are already using reusable rental programs in their cold chain logistics operations.
  • 25% are actively exploring this option.
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