2019 Pharmaceutical Cold Chain Logistics Trends

The State of Pharmaceutical Cold Chain Logistics in 2019


The pharma industry stands at a defining moment. According to the 9th edition of Pharmaceutical Commerce’s Biopharma Cold Chain Sourcebook, the sales of global cold chain and biopharma drugs are set to grow by 31% (318 billion- 416 billion) from 2018-2022, outpacing the non cold chain growth at 17% (870 billion- 1014 billion) , and the overall volume of temperature-controlled pharma products is growing at twice the rate of the pharma industry as a whole. This reflects an overall growth trend of 53% since 2016. Likewise, logistics spending in the cold chain space is expected to grow from $15 billion (10.6 in transportation and 4.4 in tertiary packaging and instrumentation) in 2018 to over $18.6 billion in 2022.

However, evolving patient-centric delivery models, expanding temperature-sensitive portfolios through an influx of new product developments, varying operating practices to fulfill regulatory guidelines, and increasing physical and cyber threats mean that crucial supply chain stability is now under severe threat. Furthermore, regulations are expanding beyond drug transportation to ingredients transportation and safety. The move towards biologic-based therapies also means that the importance and scrutiny on cold chain will only intensify over the next decade.

With quality and cost reduction KPIs not going away, the stakes are even higher now, with absolutely no margin for error. In many cases, its sink or swim for pharma companies. 

Staying Ahead of the Curve

To stay ahead of the curve and achieve GDP, life sciences manufactures need to:

  • Achieve the optimal equilibrium between patient centricity, operational and cost efficiency
  • Adopt innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions and technology quickly
  • Establish end-to-end supply chain collaboration and standardization


According to our dozens of in-depth interviews we conducted earlier this year, life sciences supply chain leaders will achieve these objectives by:

  • Developing a customer first mentality that drives behaviors and standards and is cost effective 
  • Implementing drones, machine learning, AI, IoT, blockchain, data analytics, real time monitoring, reusable and recyclable packaging solutions
  • Standardizing processes and solutions globally, moving from a 3PL to a 4PL, effective vendor management

Risks, Concerns, and Challenges

In terms of challenges and risks, the pharma logistics leaders we spoke to explained they were the most concerned about:

  • Considering a single lot of product can be worth millions of dollars, the stakes are too high for mistakes to happen from a safety and business perspective. 
  • Pharma manufacturers must rapidly adapt to changing delivery models, hit KPIs and become more flexible/agile
  • Ensure product arrives safely and on time to its destination in the safest and cheapest way
  • The current solutions to meet patient centric delivery models are not cost sustainable and not customized to requirements 
  • Lack of real life proven case studies makes it difficult to build a business case for end-to-end supply chain transformation
  • Relationships with vendors can be transactional rather than value added and there are often It can be difficult to breakdown inter-departmental siloes within pharma and biotech companies 

        To dig deeper into these issues and learn more about the current state of the Life Sciences Temperature Controlled Supply Chain industry, we surveyed 150+ experts and compiled out findings into our latest report, The State of Temperature Controlled Life Sciences Supply Chains in 2019. Download this report to find out:

        • Where our respondents are in their end-to-end temperature controlled supply chain optimization journeys
        • The temperature controlled supply industry’s biggest challenges and strategic priorities
        • What the industry is looking to invest in when it comes to solution providers and vendors