Article: Four Logistics Lessons from COVID-19

By World Courier

Protecting you and your patients from supply chain disruption

Delivering treatments to patients is a vital component of the supply chain. Regardless of global health crises or airfreight restrictions, it needs to be maintained. In a previous article, we looked at eight ways you can minimize the impact of COVID-19 on your supply chain. Here, we want to explain how we’re adapting our own approach in support of you and your patients.

1. Planning ahead

Our focus is on helping you to operate close to business-as-usual, with the understanding that this pandemic may radically alter the pharmaceutical supply landscape. We’re maintaining air connectivity by block booking space on airlines, both commercial and cargo, on a range of international lanes. This allows us to cope with the reduction in commercial flight availability. We’re also able to shift transportation from air to ground at short notice to keep shipments moving.

Effective temperature control is of great importance, especially as delays and restrictions could affect product integrity. We’re continuing to work on advanced delivery schedules, aiming to get treatments to patients 48 hours before they are needed. With the correct temperature control, this gives us extra time to deal with problems while maintaining timelines.

2. Providing more flexibility

We are continuing to maintain service levels, while offering you more customization options where possible. We have routing contingency plans ready to put into place and remain in regular contact to provide advice on when this needs to happen. We continue to maintain stocks of temperature control products such as dry ice and make them available where needed. Our contingency plans allow us to monitor and mitigate risks associated with customs delays and make use of alternate routes and entry points.

In response to the reduction in airfreight availability, we offer longer-distance driving options – we’ve seen some customers adding hundreds of kilometers to their routes to guarantee patients can receive treatment. We recently delivered urgent lifesaving medication to a baby in Kuwait. After two weeks of planning interrupted by changing flight schedules and delivery dates, a viable route to Kuwait was found – only to find the airline could no longer provide the necessary dry ice replenishments. Following emergency negotiations, we managed to guarantee two ice replenishments in Dubai. We also ensured an agent was on hand in Kuwait to provide any further assistance if required. A further two replenishments were undertaken in transit, with the treatment clearing customs in record time and arriving in spec to be administered to the patient.

3. Anticipating demand surges

Demand is changing rapidly as new treatment approaches for COVID-19 are surfaced and developed. To adapt to the increased demand for direct-to-patient delivery, we are making our solutions more flexible. Requests for direct-to-patient treatments are doubling month on month, so we’re building-in additional tolerances for delivery slots to cope with the added workloads; all the while ensuring the safety of patients and all supply chain participants.

4. Collaborating with authorities

Pharmaceutical logistics has always required widespread cross-border and cross-agency collaboration. We’re introducing additional measures to allow us to operate effectively while working with the World Health Organization and other authorities to equip our associates with the right approvals to move as freely as possible.

For example, we were recently approached to assist with 187 shipments of a lifesaving antiviral medication for a European Ministry of Health. With uncertainty surrounding the availability of the usual flights, a decision was made to use the production country’s airforce. World Courier will now pick up drugs from the lab, drive them to the airport and deliver them direct to the airforce flights.

Conclusion: Ensuring the chain doesn’t break

We know you rely on us to keep the supply chain connected, so that you can continue to improve the lives of people across the world. It’s something we’ve been doing for over 50 years. During this time, we’ve faced many crises, from Ebola outbreaks to tsunamis, volcano eruptions, hurricanes and floods. We’ve emerged from each one with new expertise and added resilience.

By adapting what we’ve learned from these past experiences, we can support your quest to keep medicine moving in the present. With this is mind, we’ve developed a set of guidelines on minimizing disruption in your supply chain during COVID-19. And if you’d like to talk to us about any of the issues you’re facing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

A shipment is loaded into an insulated box by gloved hands.

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