Pharma logistics outsourcing to reach $2bn in 2011

By Emilie Reymond

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Supply chain management

European spending on outsourced logistics services in the pharma
industry is likely to exceed $2bn (€1.5bn) in 2011 as opportunities
arise for 3PL providers who want to grab a chunk of this burgeoning
market, according to a new report.

Analytiqa's latest research, "Western European Logistics 2007" predicts that logistics spend in Western Europe markets is set to grow by more than 20 per cent, with Spanish markets leading the way. While the pharmaceutical supply chain is highly complex and regulated, and outsourcing of logistics services to third parties is still in its infancy in Europe, there is significant potential for expansion and innovation for services providers, particularly in the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and temperature controlled services, said business information provider Analytiqa. According to the new research, third party logistics (3PL) providers have the opportunity to stay ahead of the game if they manage to adapt their offering the changing demand. As opposed to the US, Europe is made of different countries governed by their own rules and concentrations of manufacturing activity are increasingly leading to the emergence of regional transport networks while moving away from a country-to-country coordination. "Outsourcing in European pharma supply chains is relatively immature and under developed when compared to the US,"​ Mark O'Bornick, research director at Analytiqa, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. "This provides opportunity for 3PLs that have both the scale and capability to operate in such a tightly regulated environment, and can demonstrate to manufacturers that they are equipped to do so." ​ The 3PL unit of Nomeco, for example, Denmark's biggest wholesaler, last year won a large logistics contract with Iceland's Actavis covering the Nordic countries, a testament to the regional shift in this evolving sector of pharmaceutical outsourcing. Over the past decade European pharmaceutical wholesalers have been facing tough times and some like Nomeco have all been diversifying their business models in a bid to offer outsourcing services to big pharma manufacturers in order to stay viable. At the other end of the spectrum, big pharma firms have been looking at globalising their logistics processes, a move that has led some global providers to offer "end-to-end" services, covering every aspect of the supply chain management. A recent example is shipping giant DHL Exel Supply Chain bagging a lucrative contract with pharma giant Wyeth earlier this year. DHL was the first logistics provider to be given complete responsibility for company's worldwide clinical trial material distribution. Meanwhile, according to the report, providing RFID in the supply chain as well as offering innovative cold chain services are the main examples of what added value services 3PL firms can go for to meet their pharma clients' demands. However, warns O'Bornick, while RFID is seen by many as a route to secure pharma supply chains, and though it will assist in achieving this goal, alone it is not the answer.

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