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6 Facts About Pharmaceutical Shipping

Updated on 20 Sep 2023
2 min read
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Pharmaceutical Shipping

If ocean freight wasn’t already a challenging enough process, try to imagine pharmaceutical shipping. We’re talking about the logistics of drugs, medications, biologic material, etc. These not only need to be kept at extremely precise temperatures, any hiccups in transportation could result in loss of huge sums of money or worse, the failure to potentially save a life.

Logistics companies often face high pressure to deliver pharmaceutical products under high demands. These often include zero damage, zero tardiness, and the possibility of track and trace. Here’s an idea of just how big the industry is: Global pharmaceutical spending crossed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2014, which is equivalent to 1.3% of global GDP. This figure will likely continue to increase as the pharmaceutical market is estimated to reach $1.12 trillion in 2022.

In order to maintain accurate temperatures during transportation, companies often make use of special equipment including cryogenic containers, dry ice, thermal blankets, and insulated packaging. Sometimes, temperature sensors are also included to monitor the product’s temperature throughout the shipping process.

But, of course, it never is as smooth as it seems in shipping, and it’s always a good idea to have additional resources ready. In the event of delays such as an Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection or other unanticipated set backs, further measures may be required.

That said, here’s an infographic on six interesting facts about pharmaceutical shipping.


  1. Pharmaceutical products need to be maintained at a precise temperature to retain their efficacy. These include flu vaccines and insulin.
  2. Thermal blankets for pallets are available to protect against sunlight, humidity, etc. It maintains a constant temperature range of around 15°C to 25°C.
  3. 7 of 10 leading pharmaceutical products require temperature-controlled transportation.
  4. Biologic material (e.g., blood, tissue, reproductive material) and clinical trials need to be stored in a cryogenic container that can hold the temperature at -150°C for at least 10 days.
  5. Just 2°C of temperature variation could completely ruin the pharmaceutical product.
  6. Pharmaceutical companies lose an average of $150,000 per small package shipment due to temperature slips. For larger freight shipments, this could cost up to millions.

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