An In-Depth Look at Challenges in Pharmaceutical Logistics

The global market for pharmaceutical logistics was estimated to be worth $69.0 billion in 2019. Market research studies also predicted a compounded annual growth rate of 7.3 percent between 2020 and 2027 for the market.

 

But in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, it should come as no surprise that there has been significant attention paid to this market – as most governments and corporations across the world remain concerned about the efficient delivery of vaccines in the shortest possible time.

While the market has historically been driven by brisk demand for over the counter (OTC) medicines, there are still roadblocks to overcome with regard to delivery logistics. To remove these barriers, the industry needs to have a deep understanding of the intricate operational structure of global pharmaceutical logistics. It is a massive system that involves tens of thousands of people, countless facilities, and more than a fair share of extremely difficult-to-reach transportation destinations.

It is important to understand the challenges such a complex structure presents and the core reasons behind these challenges – and how these challenges actually serve deterrents to achieving desired and much-needed efficiencies.

 

As a key player in global cold-chain logistics, and in support of the burgeoning field of pharmaceutical logistics specifically, Prime Logistics is taking multiple steps to address these challenges by applying efficient innovations coupled with the right kind of thinking.

Case in Point: Through its relationship with the World Cargo Association (WCA), Prime Logistics General Manager Edgar Campana recently became the first logistics professional in all of the U.S. to earn the prestigious “Responsible Person Certification for Logistics (for Good Distribution of Medicinal Products for Human Use).”

 

This important certification signifies to the cargo world that Prime Logistics has a representative on staff with a thorough understanding of the vast regulatory requirements for storage and distribution of materials for medicinal products in the pharmaceutical industry – not just in the U.S., but across the entire freight forwarding community worldwide.

Dependency on Human Resource

Handling the inventory, tracking orders, and managing the dispatches involves significant human interplay. And sometimes, where there’s human involvement, there can be a lack of coordination. As a result, there is the potential that dangerous medicines may reach the wrong recipient.

 

Consumers often receive a cheaper version or counterfeited version of the original product that they had ordered. That’s why reducing the level of human resource dependency to make way for greater automation has long been a concern for pharmaceutical companies. The introduction of the Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS), intends to limit such errors or deliberate faults. As a global logistics leader, Prime Logistics has a keen eye on advancing automation by working with distributors that are deploying advanced digital logistics capabilities.

 

Temperature Control

Pharmaceutical products are extremely temperature-sensitive. While in transit, an imbalance in temperature may often end up rendering the product useless. Suppliers often set the initial temperature during dispatch. The product’s optimal temperature is tracked in real-time and necessary changes are made as and when required. Cold chain logistics must quickly adapt to the growing demands of proper medicinal delivery. The logistics companies should also make investments in procuring refrigerated fleets and transit facilities.

 

A much-diversified delivery route works as a deterrent when it comes to maintaining the temperature of the product up and down the chain. Companies should therefore optimize delivery routes and make sure that their vendors are well equipped for maintaining temperature control when it comes to outsourced deliveries.

Prime Logistics’ recent installation of ColdMax vacuum coolers at its Bogota facility is one such example where investments in temperature control mechanisms proved cost-effective for the company and beneficial for end-users in terms of getting fresh, safe, and longer-lasting products.

 

Damaged Products

Damaged products are much larger a concern for the world of pharmaceuticals than for other types of product. Damage to the overall packing material is considered as full-fledged damage to the entire unit, even though the capsules or bottles or the blister packs are untouched within. Damages are also a matter of grave concern because pharmaceutical products often contain ingredients that may prove harmful if exposed to air. In fact, pharmaceuticals such as cytotoxics are often categorized as hazardous materials.

 

Oftentimes, an improper pallet also is a root cause of pharmaceutical products being damaged. If the structure of the box is loose and the pallets are inconsistent in size, it may lead to gradual damage in the entire batch along the edges and corners of the stack. Wooden boxes also suffer from the issue of protruding nails that frequently come loose and cause damage. It is recommended plastic pallets are used, as they have much higher consistency of size – and no menacing wood-nails that can cause punctures.

 

Be it a box or a pallet, Prime Logistics’ industry-leading technology guarantees consistent, safe, and fresh delivery of any type of perishable goods, right through the last-mile to the delivery point.

 

Storage Shortage

Pharmaceutical products are prone to contamination, expiration, and theft. Many times, the correct amount of supply ends up falling short of the anticipated number of delivery units. The last mile participants, such as doctors and healthcare workers, frequently suffer from this issue.

This problem can be solved by maintaining excess inventory, but to do so requires space. Therefore, to improve the resilience of pharmaceutical logistics, facilities should invest in additional storage space that is secure, well guarded, and adequately temperature controlled. Prime Logistics’ wide network of delivery locations includes top quality in-house services and warehouse management. Additionally, it also boasts its own cold-storage facilities at strategic delivery locations around the world.

 

Sanitation

Sanitation is a factor that plays an important role throughout the supply chain. The initial inventory, the delivery vehicles and fleets, and the storage before delivery should maintain the required level of sanitation. Lack of sanitized spaces, especially in the delivery fleets of vehicles, often ends up contaminating the products. Surfaces that absorb moisture, or can be prone to the growth of bacteria or fungi are strictly prohibited in medicinal delivery. The agents of the supply chain should also be mindful of the type of sanitizer they use.

Overall, when it comes to cleanliness and sanitation, Prime Logistics, as a market leader, ensures their customer products are not subject to contamination before making it to market. The company’s reputation rests on its high standard of care and attention in the storage and transit of medicines so that they maintain their intended shelf-life.

 

Security

Life-saving high-cost drugs or technologically sophisticated biologics are often the target of miscreants. International cartels often attempt to steal these products during delivery to sell them at cheaper prices or to counterfeit them. Logistics companies and manufacturing firms must invest appropriately in making these deliveries secure.

Each transit point should have appropriate security deployments in place. These transits include those between the manufacturing location and the warehouse, the warehouse, and the delivery fleets, and the delivery fleets and delivery-location storage. It is also important to have a security framework in place in the last-mile delivery phase. There should be a robust mechanism to ensure that products reach the intended recipient – and not get diverted to unlisted wholesalers or suppliers.

As a distinct service offer to its customers, Prime Logistics has invested in employee skills specifically within the area of perishables and pharmaceuticals logistics. Through our relationship with the World Cargo Association (WCA), multiple staff members among the Prime Group companies now boast “Anti-Bribery & Corruption Certifications,” ensuring that key security measures are in place that protect the material they have been entrusted to handle. They also have high-tech and efficient systems in place to track and trace cargo at any given point in time.

 

Regulations

Although governments and pharmaceutical regulatory bodies across the globe have been trying their best to create uniform guidelines of delivery, there are still multiple imbalances across many nations when it comes to specialized drugs. Countries have different standards of operating procedure that affect international deliveries and/or internal deliveries.

Variations in weather between two countries also drives differences between the delivery mechanisms of the two countries. Addressing these separate regulatory guidelines is often a considerable challenge. Pharmaceutical and logistics companies need to make necessary technological investments so that these transitions in regulatory conditions can be done in a hassle-free and paperless fashion. Some concerted efforts have been made to bring improvements in this area.

 

The guidelines of Goods Distribution Practice for medicinal products have helped to extend the coverage for over-the-counter drugs and do in fact endeavor to regulate temperature requirements to achieve greater homogeneity. Appropriate knowledge of the regulations and strict adherence to rules may seem cumbersome, but serves all parties well in the long run by limiting rejection costs or penalty fees.

With its global network of strategic offices and warehouses across the U.S., Latin America, and Europe, Prime Group is well positioned with a hands-on understanding and ability to manage these international differences smoothly, to minimize any unnecessary delays.

 

Cost of Technology

Many of these issues related to the intricate operational structure of global pharmaceutical logistics have one commonality. Addressing most of these challenges will require investments in enhanced technology. Starting with the handling of inventory in the warehouse to successful last-mile delivery, and along the entire span of the cold chain, there are multiple opportunities for respective technological intervention.

 

At a minimum, warehouses, delivery fleets, and delivery-area storage facilities must have appropriate temperature-control mechanisms in place, load-tested, and with little chance of failure under any conditions. The cold supply chain needs investment in software technology to meet any given demand-supply scenario at any given time. It also needs investment in tracking technology that enables a manufacturer or the procurer to track the temperature, humidity, and such necessary conditions at any point along the way, from point A to B.

 

Manufacturers and logistics vendors that are holding back on making such investments, are doing so at their own risk – with only short-term gains in mind. The problem is, a lack of such investment ultimately weakens the elements of the supply chain over time. They start performing below their intended capacity, which results in increases the overall cost of operations.

Prime Logistics approaches technological efficiency with the utmost seriousness. The company consistently pursues technological solutions and makes the investment where it must at each key phase of the cold supply chain. These phases include facilities of pre-cooling, temperature monitoring, refrigerated trucking, and more.

 

Prime Logistics’ top-tier logistics services and expertise stand as testimony that the best approach to ensuring mitigation of all the potential challenges in pharmaceutical delivery, is a proper understanding of the bottlenecks and a strong resolve to address them in time – every time.

Prime Logistics First in U.S. to Receive WCA’s ‘Responsible Person for Logistics’ Certification

General Manager Edgar Campana now recognized by World Cargo Association for compliance with ‘Good Distribution of Medicinal Products for Human Use’

Prime Logistics is now recognized by the World Cargo Association (WCAworld) – and its nearly 10,000 members in 194 countries – as the first-ever U.S. based global logistics company to offer the expertise of a fully credentialed Responsible Person for Logistics.

This highly regarded designation, awarded through London-based WCAworld Academy, signifies that General Manger Edgar Campana has a thorough understanding of the vast regulatory requirements for storage and distribution of materials for medicinal products in the pharmaceutical industry – not just in the U.S. but across the entire freight forwarding community worldwide.

“We are extremely proud to be the first logistics firm in the U.S. to receive this certification,” says Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes. “Having a WCA-accredited Responsible Person on staff not only reinforces our commitment to continually expanding our knowledge base through education, innovation, and adaptation, but also reaffirms Prime Group’s position as a trusted leader in the global logistics industry.”

Prime Group’s four enterprises, Prime Logistics, PrimeAir, Prime Planet, and Prime Fresh Handling combined serve a wide range of industries by providing professional sales and marketing services, ground handling and cold storage, market analysis and yield management, and retail food distribution.

Responsible Person (RP) in Logistics course training provides candidates with a thorough understanding of the regulatory requirements for storage and distribution of materials or medicinal products in the pharmaceutical industry. Once certified in “Good Distribution Practice of Medical Products for Human Use,” the provider possesses a practical understanding of the systems and processes required to be implemented worldwide in delivering services in the most safe and efficient manner.

Along with General Manager Edgar Campana’s certification, the company is now entitled to proudly display the distinctive Responsible Person Certified seal.

Says Campana, “This important RP designation ensures that our customers know Prime Logistics is highly qualified, knowledgeable, and compliant with not only the rules and regulations for shipping in the United States, but for multinational clients and companies depending on us to properly prepare, package, and document their cargo so that it can be accepted without delay at airports and ship ports all across the world.”

Such certification comes at a pivotal time for the air cargo industry, in particular, as logistics companies across the globe are maneuvering into position to support the crucial worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.

“Certainly, this achievement puts Prime Logistics in prime position, competitively,” Campana said, adding that RP certification is not just focused on moving pharmaceuticals like vaccines, but also covers compliance and needed skills in correctly transporting all types of medicines and medical equipment.

“And though it is very rare, if and when called into service, we are now able to handle the shipment of human organs and tissue for transplant, for customers anywhere in the world,” he added.

WCAworld training also covers all the requirements of Good Distribution Practice (GDP) and associated responsibilities to ensure that products are exported and imported within the legal supply chain. This makes an RP the go-to source for the company and its customers regarding specific requirements in the proper transportation, storage, and distribution of medicinal products. The designee’s company also must have a well-designed Quality Management System (QMS) with a focus on compliance and continual improvement.

Under the umbrella of WCAworld, the largest and most powerful network of independent freight forwarders in the world, the WCA Academy offers both online and classroom-based training and education necessary to achieve and maintain the highest industry standard. Its base of 9,540 members may achieve certifications in a range of areas, from general freight training and problem solving to specialist courses in pharmaceuticals, perishables, and obtaining compliance.

This announcement comes on the heels of announcement of Campana and one other member of the Prime Logistics staff, Cristina Moscoso receiving WCA’s Certification for Good Distribution Practices. Additionally, eight members of the company recently received Anti-Bribery & Corruption Certifications, also issued by WCAworld Academy.

About Prime Logistics

Prime Logistics is a division of Prime Group, a Miami-based air cargo and international logistics conglomerate founded in 2001. Prime Logistics has hundreds of contacts and representatives around the globe, who are skilled at providing expert logistics solutions. Many industries are supported in shipping commodities via air and ocean to virtually any destination.

Prime Group Aligns with Big Names in the Business

Many are right here among our ranks

Smart and innovative firms often surround themselves with other smart and innovative players. The Prime Group has been painstakingly diligent over its 20-year history to align itself with the most prominent air-cargo carriers in the business along with highly reputable vendors, distributors, and global trade organizations.

The caliber of external relationships is a strong indicator of the type of company you are known to be. In other words, you are the company you keep – an extremely telling standard by which a company’s reputation is measured.

There is another important gauge that accurately reflects your business acumen, philosophy, and practices, one that is perpetuated internally – Prime Group’s highly qualified and skilled workforce.

We recognize that our employees also are a clear reflection of the company and our core values: honesty and professionalism, and constant innovation and adaptation. So similarly, we have worked very hard at maintaining – and improving – our place in the industry by selecting, cultivating, and retaining the best possible talent.

As the true face of the company, Prime Group people represent a huge investment, one that deserves the greatest care and attention. One way to gain and retain the best talent is to continually offer opportunities for professional growth.

Education never ends – nor should it. There is always room for growth and knowledge, especially in the form of professional certifications. Investing in employee skills training not only bolsters employee expertise and knowledge, but having certified specialists on staff positively impacts the entire corporation.

In light of this, we keep a keen eye on ways to expand and enhance the skills and aptitude of our team specifically within the area of perishables and pharmaceuticals logistics. Through our relationship the World Cargo Association (WCA), the Prime Group of companies may now boast three new levels of certification among staff in several areas.

Awarded by WCAworld Academy within the last two months, they include:

  • Responsible Person Certification for Good Distribution Practices;
  • Anti-Bribery & Corruption Certifications; and
  • Responsible Person Certification for Logistics (for Good Distribution of Medicinal Products for Human Use).

This third honor, issued to Prime Logistics General Manger Edgar Campana, is most impressive as it makes us the first logistics firm in the U.S. to receive this level of certification. It signifies to the cargo world we have a representative on staff with a thorough understanding of the vast regulatory requirements for storage and distribution of materials for medicinal products in the pharmaceutical industry – not just in the U.S., but across the entire freight forwarding community worldwide.

This announcement truly is a feather in our cap. It reinforces the fact among our many stakeholders and business prospects that we are not only well positioned to do our part in the vital distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, but going forward, in to support the ongoing seasonal distribution of other biologics and pharmaceutical equipment worldwide.

I couldn’t be more proud of our staff and their dedication to elevating their professional skills and abilities while showing the world that Prime Group is succeeding in our pursuit to not only do the best, but be the best. Congratulations, team!

Prime Group looks forward to continuing to align itself with the greatest names in the business – and they are right here among our ranks.