Market Potential: Pharmaceutical Cold Chain Logistics to CIS and CEE countries

Cold Chain IQ

The pharmaceutical transportation and cold chain logistics industry is ripe for growth in the years to come and offers myriad opportunities for businesses, particularly in developing regions such as central and eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which comprises Russia and former Soviet republics like Estonia, Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania.

But with the EU recently revising its rules governing the distribution of medicinal products, as well as ongoing challenges such as maintaining a temperature-controlled supply chain, how can companies ensure they are fully prepared for the demands of this complex market?

Bert and Isabelle Lamaire, the owners and chief executive officers of Soncotra, a specialist in international road transport to and from eastern Europe, the CIS and the Balkans, recently explored this issue in a free webinar with Pharma IQ. They covered topics including the benefits of track-and-trace transport technology with correct temperature conditions and security on the road.

An Increasingly Complex Market

Announcing its March 2013 revisions to rules regarding the transportation of medicinal products, the EU stressed that the modern distribution network is becoming ever more complex, with many different players involved.

The body said it is of "key importance" that the quality and integrity of pharmaceuticals and medicinal products are maintained throughout the supply chain, from manufacturer to patient.

By updating its guidelines, the EU intends to provide the necessary tools to help wholesale distributors improve their operations and to prevent falsified medicines from entering the delivery network.

Among the changes is a new requirement for companies to maintain a system clarifying responsibilities, processes and risk management principles with regards to wholesale activities.

Operators are also required to keep suitable documentation to prevent errors from spoken communication and to maintain adequate premises, installations and equipment to ensure proper storage and distribution of products.

One update of the EU regulations specifically refers to the need for temperature conditions to be kept within acceptable limits during transport and for medicines to be protected against breakage, adulteration and theft.

A Market of Great Potential

There can be no denying the challenges that face companies operating in the pharmaceutical cold chain logistics market, but equally irrefutable is the potential for growth and success in the industry, particularly in CIS and CEE countries.

Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has published a series of studies entitled Transportation & Logistics 2030, the fifth volume of which focuses on emerging nations, asking if the sector is set to see "new hubs, new spokes and new industry leaders".

The report focused on seven developing markets, including Russia, which boasts a significant geographical advantage in its location between east Asia and Europe.

This factor has not traditionally had a big influence as Europe and Asia have traded over the seas, but Russia is expected to strengthen its position in the industry in future by developing its road and railway networks.

According to PwC, the Russian government sees transportation and logistics as one of its key priorities for the economy and is making investments worth billions of dollars in projects such as the development of Krasnoyarsk and Ulyanovsk airports.

In April 2013, the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda hosted the ninth international Belarusian-Lithuanian economic forum, where topics of discussion included bilateral relations in transportation and logistics, the Belarusian Telegraph Agency reported.

The government of Belarus is also thought to have held talks with Azerbaijan regarding potential joint transport projects, underlining the potential for infrastructure development in the region.

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