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4 Trends Impacting the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain in 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new age for the pharmaceutical industry. Faster development, novel techniques, and growing economic and public pressure have intensified the need for innovation and expansion. Now as a post-pandemic world unfolds, pharma sits poised to further revolutionize healthcare across multiple sectors. That has significant implications for the role of distribution, warehousing, and logistics. Following are four trends for 2023 and beyond set to push the manufacturing and movement of pharmaceuticals forward.

Trend #1: Precision medicine’s impact on the distribution model

Precision medicine represents one of the most fascinating innovations occurring in healthcare today. By analyzing the genes and proteins present in a patient, doctors can design a personalized drug treatment to cure a particular disease. Analysts project the precision medicine market will reach $175.64 billion by 2030, up from $66.1 billion today.

Personalized medicine holds the potential to transform disease treatment, especially for cancer. However, these cell and gene therapies will present major challenges to manufacturers and logistics providers. They are more sensitive to temperature and have greater time constraints than standard pharmaceuticals. Chain of custody controls and long-term storage for individual patients is critical.

Biopharma companies working in this space want logistics companies with needle-to-needle supply chain expertise, sophisticated technology to meet strict storage requirements, and point-to-point tracking systems that monitor each individual drug from production to patient. Precision medicine will force even the most sophisticated pharmaceutical logistics specialists to up their capabilities.

Trend #2: Retailers as drug delivery disrupters

Local pharmacies and big-box retailers have been expanding into healthcare for years. Now more than 2,000 locations nationwide offer healthcare delivery services from flu vaccines to primary checkups. This trend will continue to grow as consumers increasingly demand care at more convenient, less expensive locations. For pharmaceutical logistics providers, this presents a more decentralized distribution model requiring sophisticated agility to respond appropriately to local demands nationwide. CVS alone manages 2.5 billion prescriptions.

While turning retail locations into healthcare facilities presents unique challenges, opportunities exist as well when it comes to drug development. Decentralized trials using local retail facilities gives biopharma companies access to more diverse patient populations and helps bolster enrollment. This model reduces operational complexities, cycle times, costs, and burdens on the patient. Ultimately, retailers may be the key to helping pharmaceutical developers get drugs tested and to market much faster. A survey by the Washington State Office of Financial Management found that 80% of patients say they would join clinical trials if the site was 30 minutes or less from home. Walmart is doing its part with plans to open 4,000 clinics by 2029.

Trend #3: Global animal health demand

The global animal health market is expected to nearly double between 2020 and 2026 at an estimated value of $87.07 billion. Several factors influence this rapid growth. First, 70% of U.S. households now own a pet. The American Pet Products Association shows spending on companion animals will increase by 94% over the next eight years. Since 2020, the number of dog owners offering vitamins and supplements increased by 10%. Medication use is up by 7% as well.

Also driving growth is government healthcare organizations focused on improving farming techniques and animal health to combat food-borne diseases.

While the veterinary pharmaceutical market represents only about 2.5% of that for human pharmaceuticals, it offers the largest and fastest growth opportunity. Expect massive R&D investments in animal drugs and existing human pharmaceutical companies to allocate more spend toward animal health. Distribution and cold chain warehousing providers should be ready for rapid expansion in this market.

Trend #4: Cybersecurity across the supply chain

Supply chain cyber-attacks represent a growing threat against pharmaceutical companies. The issue made headlines worldwide during the race to create COVID-19 vaccines in 2020. Foreign hackers targeted AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Celltrion, and Genexine. The scheme started with typical phishing emails directed toward company employees. The hackers then expanded their efforts to gain access to pharmaceutical providers by targeting their partners throughout the supply chain. Fake emails from the company’s CEOs and even from the World Health Organization tried to mislead suppliers into sharing credentials or altering specifications for the vaccines.

While the attempts failed, they showed the vulnerability of pharmaceutical supply chains. A survey conducted by cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike found that 84% of all companies worldwide believe software supply chain attacks represent the biggest cyber threat within the next 24 months. Nearly half of organizations have experienced a supply chain attack in the last 12 months. But despite these numbers, only 36% have vetted new and existing suppliers for security purposes in the last year.

Learn More About Langham Logistics

Many of these trends already represent business as usual for Langham. We specialize in pharmaceutical and life science logistics. From meeting the strictest governmental regulations to transporting and storing life-saving drugs, Langham knows the nuances and needs of the largest pharmaceutical companies around the world. Leading-edge technology paired with years of industry expertise make us a logistics partner of choice. Discover the Langham Logistics difference for supporting and protecting even the most complex temperature-controlled pharmaceutical supply chain networks.


Cathy Langham
President and CEO

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