Failures in temperature-controlled logistics cost biopharma industry billions

The biopharma industry loses approximately $35 billion annually as a result of failures in temperature-controlled logistics, according to IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

The figure, quoted in the 2019 Biopharma Cold Chain Logistics Survey, includes lost product, clinical trial loss and replacement costs, as well as wasted logistics costs and the costs of root-cause analysis. (Those numbers fail to quantify the patient safety risks that can – and do – result from compromised products reaching unknowing patients).

The survey of key opinion leaders in the biopharmaceutical industry, published by temperature-controlled packaging company Peli BioThermal, also revealed growing use of sea transport for international shipping of temperature-controlled products. Over 70% now use sea transport, with one-third saying they use it frequently.

Nearly half (44.6%) of respondents reported multiple temperature excursions per year, and 16% said temperature excursions were a monthly occurrence. Moreover, the reported excursions aren’t a matter of a degree or two. Two in five excursions (41%) exceed four degrees, and 21% are more than eight degrees.

The summary report states that “the majority of survey respondents now see temperature and location logging as valuable and necessary. Nevertheless, about one in four respondents still do not use location and temperature monitoring — and, more concerningly, around 10% don’t see the need for such tracking services.”

Another trend revealed through the survey is the need to optimise total cost of ownership (TCO) due to relentless competition and margin pressures. “These pressures are leading organisations to take a closer look at defining TCO in their logistics and supply chain operations. A full 70% of survey respondents agree that TCO is important or very important, while only 10% still merely look at basic packaging costs and transport rates.”

Peli BioThermal has been encouraged by the fact that the survey revealed that biopharma organisations are increasingly recognising the benefits of reusable containers to protect and deliver their highly sensitive products.

“An impressive 79% of survey respondents said reusable containers — though more expensive than single-use containers — are worth the investment. More than one-third of respondents (37.6%) are already using reusable rental programs in their cold chain logistics operations and 25% are actively exploring this option.”

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