Cool Chain

Airfreight Pharma 2023: ‘Increasing value of healthcare treatments versus the value chain needed’

Mark Edwards addresses the Airfreight Pharma conference.

Mark Edwards, managing director of Modalis Logistics Consultancy, led the first talk at Airfreight Pharma 2023 today on ‘Increasing value of healthcare treatments versus the value chain needed’. He looked at pharma treatment trends, logistics trends, service requirements and how these can be helped.

Here are some of the key points to take away from his talk:

“Treatments are getting far more complex. Complexity usually adds cost for us but it also adds massive value if we can get it right”, the MD said.

“Pharmaceuticals are difficult to manufacture. Gone are the days when it’s really simple, solid, oral dose tablets. [That’s] a nice simple process.

“If I give you an example of an aspirin inhaler that we make, we make the can in the UK, ship it over to America to have a coating added, meanwhile the bulk of our pharmaceutical products are made in Italy.

“That’s shipped to the UK [then] the can and bulk come back together and get combined, and I won’t even talk about the plastic pieces of the inhaler that go to make it work.”

“And that’s a really old product. The drug that’s in there is 20-odd years-old – it’s a really simple product.”

Edwards said that treatments are “getting more complex”, which adds to cost and value. He highlighted the difficulty in manufacturing, and thus the difficulty in replacing the cargo “if things go wrong in transit”.

He explained that speed is vital in order to minimise the risk of issues, but parameters are important to control, besides heat.

But the logistics trends have “improved across the board” with the IATA CEIV programme bettering airfreight by “standardising things” and “[bringing] education to people”.

Further, the managing director praised freight forwarders and handling companies for having increased awareness and investment in this area of the airfreight pharmaceutical industry.

Edwards highlighted that there has been an “element of convergence … but there is still has a long way to go”. Comparing Apple’s transformation of the smartphone over the last few years, he called on the industry to “converge” for the benefit of everyone.