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Polpharma European CDMO Partner & API Manufacturer since 1951 Polpharma European CDMO Partner & API Manufacturer since 1951

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Overview of logistics, pharma cold chain, warehousing, packaging & distribution services & their importance in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

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Overview of logistics, pharma cold chain, warehousing, packaging & distribution services & their importance in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Q1. What is 3PL and what are the benefits of using third party logistics (3PL) providers for pharmaceuticals and clinical trials

Third-party logistics, also known as 3PL, is a system where an organisation (third party) provides logistics services to companies in need of inventory management and distribution. The company with no logistics department usually employs the help of the 3PL company. In turn, the 3PL performs parts or all logistics related activities for the client. 

Third-party logistics (3PL) companies provide any number of contract services having to do with the logistics of the supply chain. This includes transportation, warehousing logistics, picking, inventory forecasting, order fulfillment, packaging and freight forwarding. 

3PL is thus a service that allows you to outsource logistics services from commercial warehousing, all the way through to delivery, and ultimately enables you to focus on other parts of your business. 

Pharma products require specialized procedures for their receipt, storage, handling and distribution to their final destination. To aid in these efforts, the pharmaceutical industry has turned to third party logistics (3PL) providers for their expertise, cutting edge technology and ability to serve a wide range of client needs.

Pharmaceutical third-party logistics experts offer shipping and distribution services for large and small pharmaceutical companies, contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs), contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) and online pharmacies.

In Europe and other emerging markets, 3PLs manage and coordinate complex shipping activities with multiple contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) and governments.

 

Some Benefits of Third-Party Logistics Providers in the Pharmaceutical Industry 

- Focus on Strengths

A 3PL is a company that provides expert supply chain solutions that fit the needs of your business. The biggest benefit to outsource logistics services is the ability to allocate company resources most efficiently - that means your 3PL handles all-things logistics, and your time can be spent on sales, marketing, fundraising, manufacturing, or pharmaceutical drug product development. 


- Cost Reduction & Savings

The primary benefit of using a 3PL provider to handle logistics, such as packaging, commercial warehousing, fulfillment and distribution, is cost savings. For example, not having to maintain a pharma warehouse or the staff to monitor supply chain operations and not having to invest in costly equipment can help reduce costs.


- Expedited Freight 

By working with a 3PL to handle expedited freight, a pharmaceutical business gains the benefits of speed without error. A familiarity with regulations, regional laws, changes in shipping expectations, and a myriad of other details which might slip by a non-specialist logistics officer will be caught and compensated for by a company specializing solely in offering top-notch freight and shipping options.


- Expertise

Logistics is a very dynamic function. It requires understanding of business strategy, manufacturing planning, inventory management, and different modes of transportation depending on regions served. Because handling logistics is, by definition, what a 3PL does, they have expertise in all these functions, as well as many more. 

Q2. What are some tips for choosing pharmaceutical third party-logistics experts?

Different pharmaceutical third-party logistics experts specialize in different types of fulfillment and warehousing logistics. Some are equipped for cold fulfillment. These warehouses can store and ship pharma products that need to be refrigerated or frozen. Other 3PL companies are prepared to store and ship hazardous pharmaceutical drug products and so on and so forth. 

Outsourcing transportation services for distributing pharmaceutical drugs has reduced the overheads of contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs), etc. 

Pharmaceutical distribution may entail many risks, but experienced, well-qualified pharmaceutical third-party logistics experts will help you keep your operation profitable, compliant and safe. To find the right partner, make sure you ask the right questions and assess if the capabilities of the third party logistics (3PL) provider can fulfil your project requirements.

 

Some Parameters to Assess Pharmaceutical Third-Party Logistics Providers

- Temperature Integrity 

Most pharmaceuticals including specialty pharmaceuticals and medicines need to be stored at the right temperature or they might lose their potency and effectiveness. Assessing a company's temperature integrity via logs that show temperature readings, monitoring equipment, backup plans in case of any failures, etc. can help in choosing a well suited 3PL partner.


- Inventory Management 

Managing inventory is vital in the pharmaceutical industry, and it should be taken care of during pharmaceutical logistics. Even a delay of one day can affect patients considerably. When you work with pharmaceutical third-party logistics experts, you no longer have to do it alone as 3rd-party full-service logistics providers have valuable experience in inventory management. 


- Scalability 

The advantage of end-to-end third-party logistics (3PL) services in pharmaceutical supply chain management is that it offers enterprises the flexibility and scalability to utilize supply and distribution resources based on current business needs. 

Thus, when sales are down, there are no redundant investments and unutilized resources, and when there's a surge in demand, enterprises can upscale. Assessing a firm's flexibility and scalability can thus be very beneficial down the road.


- Regulatory Compliance 

Checking under the hood of pharmaceutical third-party logistics experts means confirming the business is properly licensed to operate. Make sure the third-party logistics (3PL) provider you consider has all current licenses required to operate and that an action plan is in place to address future regulations and rule changes.


Various other factors including but not limited to a robust supply network and distribution network, quality certification and health safety, service quality and environmental quality certifications, etc. should be taken into consideration before choosing pharma third-party logistics providers.

Q3. Why is cold chain logistics required in pharmaceuticals?

Biologics, samples from clinical trials and many classes of medications and medical products are extremely sensitive to heat, humidity and other circumstances. The issue of temperature excursions is thus crucial to pharmaceutical companies since many of their products require temperature-controlled supply chain and pharma 3PL distribution services to maintain their efficacy and other properties.

Pharmaceutical cold chain packaging services are essential for extending periods of marketing, avoiding over capacity, reducing transport bottlenecks during peak periods, and maintaining the quality of a product. The process involves the utilization of temperature-controlled warehouses for storage and cold insulated transport vehicles for product distribution thereby maintaining the temperature-controlled supply chain.

Temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and specialty pharmaceuticals must be kept at a consistent, specific temperature or temperature range throughout their lifecycle. In pharmaceutical cold chain logistics, conditions such as temperature and humidity are monitored continually throughout the supply chain and maintained within tight limits. A rise or fall in temperature or humidity in the pharma cold chain will render any temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical product ineffective.

The main ingredients for maintaining a pharma cold chain are effective digital communication and data collection. The complete integration of pharmaceutical supply chain processes, linking them to the data supporting regulatory needs and quality considerations, as well as automating complex patient reimbursement processing is an absolute requirement. 

Improving the existing pharmaceutical supply chains to ensure a focus on precise temperature monitoring, pharma cold chain, cryogenic monitoring, and data logging can help preserve the integrity of a pharmaceutical drug product, save money and provide better treatments for patients. Healthcare supply chains require specialized conditions and standards that need to be met by trustworthy full-service logistics providers in order to ensure that prescriptions reach patients in optimal condition. 

Temperature control pharmaceutical logistics solutions are costly to implement and maintain, and thus companies are reluctant to adopt these practices. However, industry and society benefit enormously when temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and biological products can be made in more efficient large batches, shipped around the world, and delivered as needed to the point of purchase or use.

Pharmaceutical cold chain packaging service providers have a good understanding of cold chain logistics, coupled with extra safety margins and proper risk management, needed to ensure that pharma products reach patients intact. Optimizing the logistics process can improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the pharmaceutical supply chain. 

Q4. Why is warehousing critical for pharmaceutical supply chain management?

When it comes to pharmaceutical supply chain management, safety is the name of the game. And perhaps no element of the supply chain is more integral to the safety of pharmaceutical products than the pharma warehouse. 

Pharmaceutical warehouses are crucial for manufacturing and maintaining quality products as they are responsible for incoming goods as well as releasing finished pharmaceutical formulations. For a manufacturing company to succeed and improve its production capabilities, it needs to first manage its production warehouses and distribution centre warehouses inventories efficiently.

Pharmaceutical warehouses are responsible for receiving and storing pharmaceutical products , protection against humidity and wastage, collecting customers orders, packing and labelling goods, and preparing them for transportation amongst various other commercial warehousing logistics services.

Pharmaceutical distribution centre warehouses have unique rules that have to be adhered to. Distribution centre warehouses must stock, pick, and ship products in a way that conforms to the many regulations that the sector demands to ensure that a consumer receives a high quality product. 

In addition to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), a pharmaceutical warehouse also follows Good Distribution Practices (GDP). GMP ensures products are of the highest quality when leaving the production warehouses and entering the supply chain, whilst GDP concerns the maintenance of a products integrity along the supply chain.

Pharmaceutical warehouses are further tailor-made for the products they are intended for and are designed with the aim of minimizing the risk of errors in order to avoid issues like cross-contamination. When storing products in pharma warehouses, warehouse management ensures optimal conditions including temperature, exposure to air and light, sanitation, etc.

Therefore, proper warehousing and warehouse management of specialty pharmaceuticals ensures no damage or contamination comes to the drugs. Only by preserving their state can they benefit the patients waiting at the end of the supply chain. 

Q5. Which are the leading companies offering pharmaceutical packaging and clinical logistics services? 

Contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) may choose to outsource logistics services such as pharmaceutical packaging and clinical logistics, temperature-controlled supply chain services, etc. to pharmaceutical full-service logistics providers. Some leading pharmaceutical companies offering contract services for packaging and clinical logistics are noted below.


R&S Solutions - Pharmaceutical Logistic Services

R&S Solutions provides cost-effective, high-quality logistic services to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Its pharmaceutical cold chain services include an uninterrupted series of refrigerated storage & pharma 3PL distribution services, along with associated logistics. It offers pharma warehouse and transportation solutions for pharmaceutical products. 

R&S Solutions has one of the largest C-II vaults in the industry. Its capabilities include CSOS orders of CII- substances, CII through CV storage in both ambient and refrigerated formats, full line ambient Rx, OTC, and medical supply storage, etc. It offers end-to-end third-party logistics (3PL) services including pharma warehouse and transportation solutions for CII substances.


Eurofins CDMO - Packaging & Logistics for Clinical Supplies

With more than 30 years experience in packaging and logistics of clinical trial material, Eurofins CDMO offers packaging and logistics services with cold chain and cryogenic capacities to store, manage and distribute a wide range of clinical trial materials. They have provided distribution to over 50 different countries including the U.S, India, Australia, Europe, etc.


CLINICAL SUPPLIES MANAGEMENT HOLDINGS, INC. - Cold Chain Logistics

CSM has an extensive list of available packaging (eg. pharmaceutical cold chain packaging services), labeling, storage and pharma 3PL distribution services for temperature-sensitive pharma products worldwide.

It offers a wide variety of pharmaceutical logistics solutions to accommodate specific storage and distribution needs. For projects of any size and scope, CSM offers pharmaceutical logistics solutions, pharma warehouse and transportation solutions and end-to-end third-party logistics (3PL) services through all stages of the supply chain as well as options to track and monitor supplies in real-time.


Cryoport Systems Inc - Dry Shipping Logistics Services

For materials that need to be kept at frozen temperatures, Cryoport's signature Cryoport Express® dry shippers are the most advanced storage and shipping containers on the market.

From the point of origin to the destination, Cryoport provides easy ordering, fulfillment, shipping, continuous tracking and monitoring, documentation assistance and 24/7/365 customer support for complete cold chain logistics needs.