Developing End-to-End Cold Chain Solutions for Emerging Markets
Despite the turbulent environment in North Africa in recent months, the region's pharmaceutical markets continue to present a strong attraction to the industry.
According to a recent report by Espicom, pharmaceutical sales in the five MENA markets are expected to hit $38.8 billion (£28 billion) at retail prices in 2016, with Egypt counted among the top three.
Biotechnology is still in its infancy in the region, but as the market develops and the global demand for biopharmaceuticals rises, more companies will likely look to expand in this area, bringing with it the need for greater cold chain provision – at least in some areas of the industry.
The Global Healthcare Cold Chain Logistics Market Report & Forecast (2011-2016) from IMARC Group suggested in fact that the creation of novel technologies could serve to restrict the market for cold chain logistics.
Companies are increasingly looking to develop therapies which remain stable in the event of temperature extremes.
Variation Biotechnologies already has thermostable vaccines for Influenza, Measles, Hepatitis A, Shigella and CMV in its pipeline.
On its website, the company details how its vaccines will be able to withstand 12 months in storage or shipment at constantly fluctuating temperatures between 5 degrees C and 40 degrees C.
It claims cold chain costs currently add between 14 and 20 percent to the cost of developing vaccines, adding: "This will not only increase safety and vaccine efficacy, but can enable expanded vaccine access to established and emerging markets," – likely including those in Africa.
Altravax was also said to be looking into developing thermostable Rabies vaccines.
Development of these vaccines in part has been spurred by the difficulties companies have experienced with cold chains in the past.
Although these are now improving, Julie Gerberding, president of Merck Vaccines, said in the future "we need to start with the assumption that the cold chain is not going to be an essential delivery component", Fierce Vaccines reported.
Elsewhere, companies are investing in the packing which will allow them to cut costs and their dependence on cold chain logistics.
Speaking at a recent IQPC summit, Bill Wyrovsky, associate director, regional logistics clinical supply operations at Bristol-Myers Squibb, highlighted how it used a reusable temperature management system to increase efficiencies and compliance, while reducing costs and waste.
Commenting on the Greenbox system the company used, Wyrovsky said: "Vacuum-insulated panels allow us to maximize payload efficiencies for the size of the box, which is good for inbound and outbound logistics costs. There is no thermal degradation after multiple reuse."
The system it put in place goes beyond just packaging, to efficiencies across the whole cold chain.
"It will allow us to implement the same structure on a more global basis. The same box can be used 20 times, and it works for both large - and small-molecule products, liquids, solids, and tablets. We've experienced no reported excursions and have seen excellent results in monitoring temperatures, plus we've received positive customer feedback."
Companies within the cold chain are also collaborating to offer a more joined up service to customers. Earlier this year, CryoPort and DHL signed a deal which saw the former fully integrated into the latter's shipping system.
Larry Stambaugh, CryoPort's chairman and chief executive officer, commented: "Because the CryoPort Express system is an end-to-end solution, DHL customers can prepare a complete shipment order in six simple steps on our portal."
End-to-end solutions prove particularly useful in emerging markets like those in North Africa, where cold chain provision has not yet reached the same level as that in more established markets.
For all the development taking place in the field of temperature sensitive products, it will be some time yet before the cold chain really begins to decrease in significance. With big international players like sanofi-aventis and GlaxoSmithKline making a name for themselves in MENA, as cold chain provision in the region is vital
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