Cold chain logistics efficiency heats up

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According to recent statistics, the pharma industry is maturing in its management of cold chain costs.

The 2017 annual Biopharma Cold Chain Sourcebook  from Pharmaceutical Commerce estimates that in comparison to previous years the growth rate of the temperature controlled logistics spend has cooled slightly from 8-9% to 5-6%. However, the value of temperature controlled pharmaceuticals being transported is predicted to grow by 10.7% this year. This suggests that the industry is grasping how to transport these pharmaceuticals in a more cost efficient manner.

The research notes that the cold chain market will total $13.4billion this year and by 2021 it could stand around £16.6 billion.

Medicines that require refrigerated storage and distribution are estimated at $283 billion and is charted for a roaring 70% growth over the next six years. The biologic and biosimilar boom is attributed as a driving force behind this alongside the rise of precision medicine work in the market. Personalised medicines require the freezing of biomaterials and tight margins of control in transit.  Also, underdeveloped economies are starting to embrace insulin products and vaccines.

China’s cold chain logistics industry has entered a stage of rapid development. Increased consumer spending and the growing number of pharmaceuticals made in China which have gained certification from health authorities in Europe and North America are just two of the driving factors underpinning this growth

According to the IMS Institute for Health Care Informatics, China is the second-biggest pharmaceutical market in the world after the U.S. at about $115 billion and expectations of reaching $190 billion by 2020. Among the healthcare areas in which the Chinese government is said to be considering streamlining is the distribution of pharmaceuticals and clinical trials.

Another area under expansion is the cold storage market in India. According to the Cold Storage Market in India 2015-2020 research report and this is expected to be worth US$ 8.57 billion by 2020 growing at a CAGR rate of 16%  to 2020.

Saddam Huq QA Senior Manager, Global Logistics and Cold Chain at GSK Vaccines in Belgium notes:"Asia is emerging as a global powerhouse in the healthcare industries. As we see the economic boom within the emerging countries, vaccines and biologics have become more accessible for the local markets."

"India, viewed as one of the key growth markets, recognized its weak link by improving its provision at major airports, including Mumbai and Hyderabad, but cold chain facilities still pose a barrier with the unstable power supply to the development of the market in the country."

He adds: "... Major Biotech Companies have strategically entered in partnership agreements with local pharmaceutical companies or set up manufacturing plants supplying the local markets. Alternatively, we also see strong ambitions from local Manufacturer’s in India such as ‘Serum Institute of India’ that are supplying vaccines to WHO globally."


Clinical trials are expected to fuel $3.2 billion in logistics activity in 2017. This is forecasted to expand to $3.4 billion by 2021. The prediction is grounded in predicted trial volume, placement and R&D investment.