Lately, there have been some eye-catching reports suggesting exciting implications for last mile distribution in life sciences industries.
The US company Matternet, together with Swiss Post, is piloting a delivery service in Lugano, Switzerland, using drones to deliver urgent medicines, blood preserves or medical samples to hospitals and laboratories. The products are transported using a quadrocopter equipped with a special shipping container with a load capacity of 2kg that can transport a distance of up to 20km at a speed of 70km/h. The drones move in a network of permanently installed landing platforms with an integrated battery charging station. The recipient is provided with a QR code on his smartphone, which is read out via an integrated camera to unlock the container and to release the load.
In addition to the significantly improved lead time, the targeted medium-term transport costs of $5-10 will also be significantly lower than the price of an express courier transport in the traditional setup.
At the same time, news is spreading that following the takeover of the US online pharmacy PillPack, Amazon is also planning to enter the European pharmacy market. The distribution of medicines by Amazon directly to patients alone would bring about serious changes for wholesalers and pharmacies as well as pharma last mile distribution in general. Further consolidation effects and measures to increase efficiency for last mile delivery in this already extremely competitive market would be the likely consequence.
Experience with Amazon in other areas show that it will presumably not remain with trade alone, but that additional services will also be established. In the pharmaceutical sector, the Amazon Service “Amazon key” could be used to deliver temperature-critical medicines directly to the patient’s refrigerator or drop-refrigerator of customers choice. The front door is equipped with a digital lock, which the Amazon delivery person can open using an authentication code on his or her smartphone.
Particularly treatments involving biological medicines present a major challenge in coordinating the weekly or even daily delivery of temperature-sensitive medicines with private and professional life. Especially after successful delivery to the patient, it is no longer possible to guarantee maintaining a controlled temperature corridor.
Convenient delivery directly to the patient’s refrigerator would significantly improve the patient’s quality of life, considerably reduce the complexity of coordination over the last mile and at the same time enable continuous temperature control.
What do both examples have in common? They offer extremely exciting perspectives for last mile delivery in pharmaceutical logistics and involve the exchange of sensitive data between multiple players.
Increased data security requirements due to new service offerings
Several other patient-centric operating models are currently emerging which are placing the patients firmly at the heart of the business. In addition to the patient, other participants include physicians, clinics, laboratories, logistics service providers and pharmaceutical companies. In many cases, important data is still transmitted analogously and partially entered again in the subsequent processes. The risk of incorrect data is therefore immensely high. Therefore, an IT architecture is required that ensures that there can be no mix-ups in the process.
At the same time the relevant patient data must be made available to the actors authorized for the therapy process by means of decentralized data storage in accordance with legal data protection requirements. In addition, it must be ensured that all data transactions take place exclusively between approved participants and are stored unalterably and consistently.
All this is enabled by the Hypertrust X-Chain application developed by Camelot using a closed-loop supply chain approach. In addition, there is the possibility for flexible integration of partner systems, real-time temperature, location and quality control as well as secure proof of origin. This is an essential basis for the serialization and traceability topics that we are currently dealing with in our projects.
Further thoughts on Trusted Pharmaceutical supply from my colleague Dr. Jochen Thomas.
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We would like to thank Sebastian Scherer for his contribution to this article.