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The Rise in Biologics

By Toby Hay
Global World Wide Sales Manager, FedEx HealthCare Solutions

The European healthcare industry wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for continuous innovation and investment. As the region emerges from the constraints of the economic downturn, it remains imperative to ensure that investment and resources are correctly harnessed. This is especially important, as the average number of drugs being approved for human use has decreased significantly1 in recent times.

We must consider how to use investment as effectively as possible, especially with a marked decline in the number and pace of drugs being brought to market post research and development (R&D).

Whether to help assure better quality and longer life expectancy or return on investment potential, healthcare companies need to keep one step ahead of consumer requirements. This will ensure drugs and pharmaceutical products continue to fulfill society’s demand and that supporting services mirror this requirement accordingly.

Biologics: Complexities
FedEx has worked in the healthcare industry for over 40 years. Over those years, we’ve realized that trend spotting is integral to success.

To support a Pharma company’s lifeblood — its R&D pipeline — researchers have turned to the world of biologics to find tomorrow’s next blockbuster. In recent years, we’ve seen a more pronounced rise in this area — medicinal products derived from, or manufactured within, living cells. This shift into personalized medicines is only slated to grow over the next 10-15 years.

By 2018, it is predicted 49% of the top 100 healthcare products will be biotech2. Germany and the UK are Europe’s hotspots for biotechnological development and with that comes the responsibility to continue to remain on the leading edge of innovation in this field.

Biologics: A Sensitive Subject
Biologics, although innovative, are extremely fragile and sensitive. Made from “living plant, human, animal cells or microorganisms,” most biologics are large, complex molecules and extreme care has to be taken throughout the journey from creation to end-user. Launching a successful product in this groundbreaking area requires a supportive network during both the R&D and the transport phase.

Temperature: Considerations
The transportation needs for the emerging biologics field are constantly evolving. Over 90% of all vaccines require a temperature-controlled supply chain that begins with the manufacturer and ends with the administration to the patient2. By 2020, it is estimated that 8 of the top 10 best-selling global drugs will require handling at +2°C to +8°C2. It is clear increased care during transportation needs to develop alongside industry innovations.

From a logistics perspective, biologics are considered very time-and-temperature sensitive. A slight temperature change can alter their molecular structure, rendering them ineffective or even toxic. Seamless temperature-controlled networks and sensor-based monitoring tools are in greater demand. As is the need for packaging options that keep biological samples frozen, or one-click packaging solutions to keep samples cold.

These complex pharmaceuticals require even faster transportation to reduce the chance and risk of exposure. But it’s not enough to be quick. The care and quality of this “network within a network” is imperative to ensure product reliability.

Europe: Leading the Way
While highly challenging and regulated, healthcare is a truly globalized industry — one led by the innovations and market within Europe. A smart combination of adaptation, flexibility and forecasting can help us ensure that Europe remains a leader in this innovative industry.

1Swansea University Scientists Engineer 3D Bioprinted Tissues for Pharmaceutical Research, January 2015
2Global Healthcare Conference Market Trends, September 2014 written by Rachid Meftah & Toby Hay