Real-Time Visibility: The Key to Tackling Product Loss in Pharma Supply Chains

June 20, 2023

July 2, 2024


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Product loss is devastating for both pharma companies and patients. Yet, while the financial costs of this issue may be high, the environmental and human costs are equally—if not more—severe.

With healthcare's carbon footprint at 4.4% of global emissions and set to more than triple by 2050, there's an immediate need for the pharmaceutical industry to adopt more sustainable practices. Furthermore, product loss significantly affects healthcare providers and patients, particularly those confronting severe or chronic diseases. A delay in receiving treatment or a shortage can result in exacerbated symptoms, increased hospitalizations, and potential death.

Yet all is not lost. Innovative technology that provides pharmaceutical companies with real-time shipment visibility can help overcome these challenges by allowing logistics teams to actively monitor the location and temperature of pharmaceutical shipments, equipping them to avoid in-transit issues that result in product damage and loss.

Product Loss: A Triple-Edged Sword  

As mentioned, product loss during transportation is a significant—yet often overlooked—factor in pharma sustainability with significant financial, environmental, and human costs.

The Financial Costs

The financial implications of pharmaceutical product loss extend far beyond the initial value of the undelivered shipment. Annually, the pharmaceutical industry experiences massive product losses of a staggering $35 billion, with the effects reverberating across the balance sheet.  

First, companies lose revenue from unsellable products when medications spoil during transport. Additionally, money and resources must be spent to manufacture and ship replacement products. 

Finally, such events can cause reputational damage, resulting in increased spending on marketing and efforts to regain consumer trust.

The Environmental Costs 

Pharmaceutical product loss has a significant environmental toll, often more than doubling the greenhouse gas emissions of the original shipment as replacements are manufactured and transported. Replacement shipments also often must be expedited via air freight, exponentially increasing net carbon emissions.

Temperature-sensitive products, a rapidly growing pharma sector, face a high risk of damage during transit due to inconsistent temperatures. As many as 20% of these products and 25% of vaccines are spoiled and unable to be delivered due to failures in the cold chain, wasting the initial resources and escalating the environmental burden with replacement production.

A Gartner report underscores the industry's need for sustainability enhancement, revealing pressure from customers (63%), investors (48%), and regulators (46%).

The Human Costs

Product loss consequences go beyond financial and environmental costs—it exacts a heavy human toll. A vital pharmaceutical shipment delayed or spoiled causes undue stress for both patients and healthcare providers. Any interruption in the delicate timeline of clinical trials or treatments can have dire effects.

Moreover, delayed patient access to medications compounds the issue. Those relying on treatments to manage chronic conditions, or combat life-threatening diseases, feel the sting of such delays acutely. Worsening symptoms, elevated hospitalization risk, and in extreme cases, death could follow. 

The Solutions

By leveraging technology, we can transition from outdated, reactive methods to proactive, real-time strategies. Here are some examples of how embracing innovative visibility technology can substantially minimize product loss and promote sustainability:

The New Age: Real-Time Monitoring

Shifting from traditional, reactive shipment monitoring methods like passive data loggers to proactive, real-time technologies mitigates product loss, conserves resources, and enhances return on investment. Specifically in pharma, placing logistics management on the frontlines is a modern approach that ensures efficient resource utilization.

Real-Time Temperature Monitoring

Real-time temperature monitoring systems exemplify the shift towards anticipatory approaches. These systems don't just passively gather temperature data to be viewed after-the-fact like traditional data loggers; they provide real-time insights on shipments’ location and conditions and send immediate alerts if an excursion occurs. Doing so, they ensure swift action to preserve product integrity.

Integration of Advanced Technologies

By combining GPS, 5G cellular technology, and WiFi triangulation, advanced tracking devices provide and communicate consistent and precise updates on the location and condition of shipments. This information helps logistics teams immediately detect and fix problems, lowering the risk of product loss.

The Power of the Right Partner

Tackling product loss in the pharmaceutical supply chain is an urgent sustainability challenge. But as we've explored, the advent of real-time shipment monitoring technology is paving a pathway to significant reductions in environmental impact.

An award-winning logistics technology firm, Tive designs solutions to save shipments. One of those solutions, its pioneering Solo 5G tracker, isn't just a tool; it’s a game-changer, offering real-time data on location and conditions and instant alerts on deviations. 

For example, after a previous $2.5M loss due to temperature-sensitive shipping errors, a pharmaceutical client enlisted Optimize Courier, an industry leader in temperature-sensitive logistics, for a proactive solution. Optimize, leveraging Tive's innovative multi-sensor Solo 5G trackers, transformed the client's supply chain. Real-time monitoring and instant alerts for temperature deviations allowed Optimize to prevent further losses promptly. This strategy proved successful during a $500,000 shipment: a timely alert from Tive about an unexpected temperature drop enabled Optimize to take immediate corrective action, preventing another costly loss for the client. 

Yet, this is only one example of Tive’s transformative power and value in proactive logistics management. It offers a complete cold chain solution for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and life science industries, covering the full range of temperatures required.

As we look to the future, the next step is clear. Enhance your supply chain visibility, reduce waste, and build a greener future with the help of Tive. Let's work together to revolutionize pharmaceutical supply chains. Contact Tive today to take the first step.

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