Subscribe to Newsletter
Manufacture Business Practice, Small Molecules, Trends & Forecasts

Logistical Nightmares

Stan Wraight: The very first use of air cargo for biomedicals, and the atrocious incidents that occurred in their transportation, was a disaster. It came about because the airlines in the beginning were unaware of what was required, largely because of a lack of communication between airlines, shippers and consignees. Millions of dollars were lost, and one can only imagine the number of potential lives that were lost as a result of those medicines not reaching patients.

Mark Edwards: I’ve personally seen 36 pallets left on the tarmac at Dubai for two days. Not only was the stock financially valuable, it was also essential; the life-changing drugs were heading to a country where supplies were almost exhausted. The product had to be destroyed because of the effects of +50°C temperatures.

Jan Krems: In terms of impact to the cargo industry and its customers, the biggest logistics disaster was the 2016 bankruptcy of the ocean container shipping line, Hanjin. There were hundreds of thousands of shipments delayed around the world – but worse than delayed, many were stuck on ships for months and neither the shippers nor consignees could get them. The value of the pharma stock that was stranded at sea was enormous.

On a brighter note, last year we managed to mitigate a logistics disaster that could have been much worse: the impact of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. The airports on the island began to open for arrival of flights of relief supplies and workers while the sea ports were still closed. Specifically, United was able to transport more than 1.7 million pounds of generators and other hurricane relief supplies to impacted areas of Puerto Rico and Texas. Because of United TempControl’s presence and operations in San Juan, our experts were able to meet with nearly every major pharma manufacturer on the island to discuss how to alleviate the crisis.

Further disaster: In 1996, Foxmeyer Drug – then the second largest drug distributor in the US – tried to revamp its IT systems and its distribution facilities. Its new ERP system couldn’t cope with the volumes, and the highly automated distribution center (DC) in Ohio was riddled with bugs. According to Supply Chain Digest, “An order would be partially shipped due to DC problems. The customer would receive a partial order, and call to complain. Unable to see the rest of the order had shipped on a later truck, the customer service rep would authorize a replacement shipment for a product already on its way to the customer. Tens of millions of dollars in unrecoverable shipping errors ensued.”

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Medicine Maker and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

About the Author
James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.


From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

Register to The Medicine Maker

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine