UPS launched a new service to transport and store temperature-sensitive drugs, the company announced Monday.
UPS will help health systems, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories around the world manage and track their cold chain logistics from active pharmaceutical ingredient production to getting the finished product to patients. It has installed nearly 400,000 square feet of coolers and freezers to store drugs ranging from 2 degrees Celsius to minus-80 degrees Celsius, among other infrastructure improvements.
"One of the silver linings of COVID-19 was that we built out cold chains for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in remote areas that didn't have any infrastructure," said Dan Gagnon, vice president of global UPS healthcare marketing and strategy. "All these temperature- and humidity-sensitive biologics and cell and gene therapies will be solutions for the future."
Many biologics need to be kept cold. It's one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical sectors, with global biologic therapy sales expected to reach $400 billion by 2025, Grand View Research estimates.
The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research approved 48 biologics from 2016 through 2019, which accounted for 28% of all new drug approvals. That compared to 26 biologic approvals from 2012 to 2015, making up only 19% of all new drug approvals.
UPS is building out its temperature-controlled packaging options, cold chain ground network in Europe, tracking system and distribution facilities to meet that demand.
Its cold chain services are garnering plenty of demand from large health systems after UPS was able to deliver 99.7% of the COVID-19 vaccine safely and on time, Gagnon said, adding that it delivered 600 million doses to customers across 92 countries.
"We're working with large integrated delivery networks that are looking for support for central storage and distribution across all their hospitals as well as clinics that are receiving them directly," he said.
UPS also announced a partnership last week with Stericycle to help healthcare companies safely dispose of medical waste, as well as other supply chain services.