Growth of personalized medicine promises new logistics challenges

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Dive Brief:

  • Personalized medicine is likely to  grow 11.8% between 2014 and 2022, with $2.45 trillion in revenue expected by 2022, the Cool Star reported Monday. 
  • While the current state of the cold chain is likely adequate for the transport of personalized medication, necessary error rates of nearly 0% will pose the biggest challenge as unique medications and treatments are added to the process.
  • As supply chain expenses account for approximately 25% of pharmaceutical costs and 40% of medical device costs, according to Pharma Focus Asia, logistics improvements could free up billions of dollars for other investments.

Dive Insight:

As personalized medication gains a foothold among patients, healthcare providers must adapt to ensure their cold chains are error-free. Imagine, for example, a unique cancer treatment is delivered to the wrong clinic, patient, or is lacking a unique product identification upon receipt, ultimately delaying the patient’s treatment.

While currently such errors are uncommon, the promise of widespread personalized medicine may already be pushing logistics providers to improve their controls and visibility techniques.

QuickSTAT, a long-standing clinical trial logistics provider, recently announced an expanded portfolio to treat personalized cancer treatments, for example. The company notes the rise of personalized products requires “complete chain of custody” capabilities, as a product would require individual tracking from manufacture to customer delivery; individual packaging needs; increased temperature monitoring; aid in custom clearance and other regulatory hurdles; and GPS-based alerts for potential delays.

Various providers already offer many of these services, but a rise in personalized medicine could also shift methods further along the supply chain as individual products rise in delivery rates challenging traditional bulk delivery providers. In other words, personalized medicine could present a similar direct-to-consumer challenge as is currently affecting retailers and food delivery companies.

The winds of change are already blowing: a report released in May by Oxford and SAP reveals two-thirds of 120 healthcare professionals are already seeing personalized medicine have a measurable impact on their company or facility, as providers seek to lower the cost of care and increase treatment efficacy. In addition, the progress of a $215-million Obama-administration DNA sequencing project will, in the future, help enhance precision medicine techniques. 

Logistics will emerge as an important team player in the development of personalized drugs, and those who prepare now to offer services may see tremendous financial rewards. 

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