Article: Eight Actions for Your Biopharma Logistics Planning

By World Courier

‘Challenging’. ‘Unprecedented’. ‘Turbulent’. Words you’ve heard enough of over the last few weeks. For biopharmaceutical organizations, the knock-on effects of COVID-19 – border closures, limited air freight, restrictions on movement – are especially disruptive. At World Courier, our focus is on delivering certainty for you, so you can provide it for your patients. And while there may not be a return to ‘business as usual’ any time soon, there are steps you can take now that will help to maintain your supply channels.

1. Commit to an increase in local sample testing

Eliminating non-essential travel is a requirement for many governments. Completing sample testing locally means reduced travel which limits potential spread of disease, but also helps to avoid potential shipment delays. World Courier is supporting customers with domestic transport requirements as more and more labs stay local.

2. Adapt to central labs’ new rules on sample freezing

We have seen an increase in demand for frozen shipments as labs pivot to shipping frozen samples in bulk or freezing samples to ship at a later date. This may help to ease the pressure on teams at the clinical site, but there are several factors to consider:

  • Ambient samples need to be detailed as frozen on export permits to get through customs successfully
  • If your study is extended, permits should include expiry dates for treatments
  • Using bulk shipments may minimize disruption – World Courier has many shippers available for pre-booking
  • Supporting lab operations in the delivery of consignments – for instance, we will ensure the oldest samples are delivered first to reduce excursions
  • Non-EU countries often have different restrictions when it comes to shipping frozen samples. It may be difficult to get samples out of the country if they are not clearly stated as frozen. Partnering with a specialty biopharma logistics provider gives you the advantage of established expertise

3. Prepare for alternatives

There is substantially reduced air freight availability, so it pays to work with a partner with a proven track record in contingency planning. World Courier is carrier agnostic and can readily sustain connectivity through alternative flights, routing and border entry points.

4. Go Direct to patients

To keep trials on track and maintain treatment regimes, converting to direct-to-patient models is a valuable solution during this time of restricted movement. Consider this option if your patients’ tolerance for the treatment is known, if it can be self/nurse-administered and if the product has the tolerance to be transported and stored. 

A visiting nurse talks to a man and a woman in their home.

5. Adapt your storage policies

Changing delivery schedules may mean your warehouses are having to store more product than usual. With this in mind, optimizing layout and access are key, especially for treatments that require temperature control. Internal travel in developing markets such as Latin America is also now more challenging due to the numerous borders that need to be crossed. Consider pre-empting a travel shutdown with a more distributed strategy for supplies, storing them equally across markets to minimize the need for travel. 

6. Be nimble and react quickly

Given the current uncertainty, you should store and distribute the maximum amount of product when the opportunity arises. Knowing how to swiftly reactivate the normal supply chain should be your top priority. 

7. Stay informed

Procedures have evolved and are under continual review to ensure we are operating in the best interest of the patient at all times. At World Courier we’ve introduced flexibility with contact-free procedures, protecting the safety of all involved without limiting the successful delivery of critical shipments. To ensure you have all the latest information, check our regular COVID-19 updates.

8. Keep communicating

Regulatory and process changes will emerge, and delivery windows may open and close at a moment’s notice. It’s vital to remain in regular contact with your logistics partners. Collaboration is key if you want to mobilize quickly. By agreeing on requirements and responsibilities up front and planning with as much detail as possible, you can maximize your chances of success – and minimize delays and excursions. 

Conclusion: Expertise makes all the difference

World Courier has knowledge and experience in delivering in times of public health crisis and supply chain disruption, including the Ebola outbreak and the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. Implementing these steps can contribute to maintaining continuity of your supply. Together, we can minimize the disruption your patients face and support the needs and safety of your teams. If you’d like to learn more about how we’re dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, take a look at our article, “Four Logistics Lessons from COVID-19”.

A man pushes a box on a cart down a wide aisle of storage lockers in a pharmaceutical storage depot.

Covid content series

Coming soon: A webinar and white paper discussing the future of clinical trials.