Making Drug Distribution a Global Proposition

Pharma IQ

There are a number of issues which impact on the ability of a drug development
firm to successfully create and bring a new product to the market. However, while regulatory matters tend to be recognised as the most important aspect of such work, a focus on those areas does gloss over other essential issues which need to be considered. One of the most vital is arguably the concept of supply chain, as the ability to distribute products in an efficient manner can not only boost efficiency but also help firms to reduce costs.

The area of pharmaceutical distribution is one which is undoubtedly growing, particularly as the overall industry expands its presence across the globe. With western companies now regularly outsourcing services to companies in emerging Asian markets, the concept has become a growing concern.

A prime example of the growth that is being seen in drug distribution is a recent announcement by World Courier. Originally established at the end of the 1960s, the organisation specialises in drug and trial-related transport, storage and distribution services. Its global cold chain logistics services offer firms in-transit temperature monitoring, as well as guidance on country-specific import requirements and packaging solutions. With a network of around 140 offices working in 50 countries, the firm is one which is benefiting from global trends in the pharmaceutical industry.

The company recently confirmed it is planning to expand its GMP-compliant clinical trial supply chain services network to 13 strategic and emerging markets, which will include the construction of a new 135,000 sq ft state-of-the-art regional distribution facility in Singapore. World Courier is also pushing ahead with plans to open another facility in Tokyo as it aims to expand its presence across Asia.

However it is not just that continent which is in the firm's sights, with South America also playing a key part in its future plans. Storage facilities in Buenos Aires look set to quadruple, while the company is also responding to demand by boosting its operations in Brazil and Chile. 

Discussing the plans, Wayne Heyland, president and chief executive officer of World Courier, said the firm is keen to meet the demands of its clients by investing in its global reach. He explained: "Before 2005 when we were first to offer global fully-integrated 'one-stop' clinical trial transport, storage and local/regional distribution services, pharmaceutical customers had no alternative but to deal with multiple suppliers, resulting in unnecessary complexity, loss of control and disjointed chain of custody."

Mr. Heyland added that the specific thinking behind the new Singapore distribution facility was to ensure its services are available through the Asia-Pacific region. Such ambition was welcomed by Kelvin Wong, director of logistics for the Singapore Economic Development Board, who claimed the launch of the new centre was a big boost for the country.

"World Courier's decision to establish a regional clinical trial storage and distribution depot here strongly attests to Singapore's strengths as a strategic supply chain hub for companies that wish to tap into the growing biomedical science and healthcare sectors in Asia-Pacific," he outlined.

Mr. Wong added that biomedical companies, particularly those linked to work in relation to time-sensitive and mission-critical trials, would have the chance to significantly boost their supply chain across Asia by making use of World Courier's new facilities.

So while World Courier is likely to benefit greatly from expanding the global presence of its pharmaceutical distribution services, the move is also expected to offer a boost to drug development firms which are either based in Asia or outsourcing some services to that part of the globe.

As emerging markets in Asia - such as India and China - become increasingly attractive to pharmaceutical organisations, it is likely that World Courier will not be the only organisation looking to make drug distribution a truly global proposition.