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'Blue Dart understands the criticality involved in pharma logistics'

News Clip: Express Pharma, National

16th - 31st December, 2011.

Blue Dart Express is one of the most trusted logistics service providers of the pharma industry. Ketan Kulkarni, vice president and head marketing, corporate communications and sustainability, Blue Dart Express, in discussion with Sachin Jagdale, analyses the reasons behind the growing acceptance of company's services among pharma players

Pharma logistics is a very sensitive affair. How have you managed to handle this task successfully?

Blue Dart understands the criticality involved in pharma logistics and the repercussions in case of any shortcomings in the service. Hence, we have simplified Temperature Controlled Logistics (TCL) solutions and offer customisation and a quality product catering to the various sensitive and express needs of the pharma companies as well as clinical research organisations across the country. Blue Dart offers solutions from packaging to transportation, ensuring seamless services. The innovative TCL ensures safe and compliant transport in frozen, chilled and ambient conditions, using appropriate cooling mediums. The packaging performance delivers temperature for the range - 20ᄚC, 2 - 8ᄚC and 15 - 25ᄚC for varying distribution times. Blue Dart's TCL solutions cater to pharma companies, clinical research organisations (CROs) and hospitals/laboratories to name a few.

What are the main challenges while dealing with pharma products?

Quality storage infrastructure, high dwell time and specialised handling of pharma products at airports and seaports have been a challenge since the quality of the products may get adversely affected due to variation in temperature. Pharma products are treated and handled like any other products while at times lack of storage facilities at these locations force companies to take direct delivery of pharma products coming in. Given the boom in biotechnology and CRO activities happening, the need of the hour is a world-class facility completely dedicated to the pharma industry with an efficient management to oversee the operational aspects. Also, one needs to look into the importance of pharma zones at all major airports and seaports.

Currently, temperature-controlled facilities at all major airports are inadequate with limited or no capacity for different temperature ranges of pharma products. According to a study by Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), India, although seen as a cost competitive market for logistics, might be lagging behind China and even the European Union (EU), if the additional costs due to logistics inadequacies are taken into account. These inefficiencies exist in state-border delays, tolls and lost time due to paperwork. For instance, delays at Indian inter-state borders may take anywhere between 2-24 hours, while transit across borders in China takes only 15 minutes to an hour and almost no time in the EU. The government is involved in expediting the set up of such facilities within the next 18-24 months at both Mumbai and Delhi that will lead to the set up of cold chain facilities as well as faster and easier import clearances.

Do you have a separate section to handle pharma products as it requires special expertise?

We have a specialised team handling TCL solutions which ensures secure, validated temperature controlled distribution of products nationwide across 53 origin-destination pairs. These solutions are supported by extensive and reliable express distribution, dry ice supplies including free top-up replenishments, real-time shipment status information, regulatory clearance, validation services and project management. The packaging is constructed from recyclable, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective material. This is equally backed by strong operational processes and systems. Blue Dart was recently honoured with the Frost & Sullivan award for the 'Best Logistics Service Provider in the Pharmaceutical Sector'. In which part of India does Blue Dart Express have the maximum pharma clients?

The pharma industry is geographically clustered in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) to name a few.

Who are your clients in the Indian pharma industry? We work with all the major pharma companies in the country as we understand the criticality involved in pharma logistics and the repercussions of any shortcomings in the service. Our focus is to see that the consignment reaches the destination on time in the right condition even though many challenges like quality storage infrastructure, high dwell time and specialised handling of pharma products at airports and seaports are faced by the industry. Any shortcomings while the consignment is in transit can affect the quality of the products. How do you plan to increase your pharma client base in India?

The launch of the new product, TCL, coupled with state-of-the art infrastructure, captive and dedicated air and ground infrastructure, specialised handling, priority network, manpower trained in handling cold chain and dangerous goods, IT integration and charter service option will help us consolidate our position amongst our customers, both current and potential. What are your future plans?

The clinical trials market is growing at a high rate-a CAGR of 69 per cent. India is the number three market in Asia Pacific (after China and Japan) for clinical trials with costs as much as 60 per cent lower than in the US. This and the rising middle class as well as the growing disposable incomes has led to expenditure on healthcare and wider insurance coverage which in turn will lead to increased demand for pharma logistics.

Working with all the major pharma companies in the country, Blue Dart is committed to the industry and partnering its growth. DHL's FTZ facility in Chennai is a first of its kind and a step in the direction of providing the Indian life science and healthcare industry with a truly global facility for its warehousing and logistics needs. Along with the DHL group companies (DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding and DHL Supply Chain), we can now offer a seamless cross border service for all shipment specifications.

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