Supplying for the biologics boom

The rising use of biosimilars – a biologic medical product that is a near-identical copy of an original product by another company – is expected to result in the near doubling of the size of pharma cold chain logistics business over the next three years.

This shift presents many opportunities and challenges. Live materials used in cell and gene therapies and personalized medicines need to be transported quickly and safely within the correct temperature range from the lab to clinical site to ensure their effectiveness. Everything from the weather, to traffic jams, to customs regulations can disrupt such high volume and highvalue shipments.Javier Gomez-Contreras Supply Chain BGx LATAM of GSK examines the prospects for vaccine distribution as the industry serves the rise in demand. 


How do cold chain processes have to be adapted when transporting vaccines?

Javier: “The supply chain has to be more established in new technology to deliver the products to patients. Some models in use currently do not have the technology to maintain the temperature correctly for long periods, especially in developing countries.

“In Brazil, for example, we have to travel far to deliver the products. In order to reduce the cost and [ to transport by truck, not air], we have to identify technology resources – refrigerators, cameras and containers that may allow us to maintain the temperature for 72 hours. “

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The supply chain has to be more established in new technology to deliver to patients. Some models in use do not have the technology to maintain temperature for long periods....

Biologics need dedicated solutions for transport, how can the industry keep up with the growing demand for these treatments?

Javier: “The technology that we are looking for needs to reduce lead times from an end-toend perspective. When the product is ready, how do we expedite the process? 

“There are two main issues here: the shelf life is usually around 24 months because it’s a biological product. The other issue is how to maintain the temperature, especially for emerging markets. How can we help governments build the infrastructure they need?”

What are the biggest challenges for the future of vaccine distribution?

Javier: “I think the last mile, [especially looking at the new technologies used in today’s products to prevent sickness.]

“The other challenge is how we deliver the products on time and how we deliver to poor people, because it’s these people that need these kinds of products the most.”

What new technologies can support how these vaccines are transported?

Javier: “At the DHL Worldwide conference they’ve started to illustrate the use of drones with refrigerated containers to deliver products over the last mile –they’re not too heavy, the new gels provide more duration with low pollution levels and you are able to reuse several times.”