Cold chain movement from the primary-distributor perspective

HDA’s latest Factbook tracks temperature-controlled distribution


The HDA Factbook: The Facts, Figures and Trends in Healthcare Distribution, 2016-7 is a compilation of industry data and surveys of the members of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, who are most of the primary distributors in the US. HDA members, in the 2015 calendar year, handled 93.8% of drugs in distribution, up from 91.4% in 2014 (a statistic boosted somewhat by added members of the Alliance); their 203 distribution centers handle, on average, 100,699 units per day, making 5,789 deliveries to 1,296 shipping points.

The average DC carries 52,066 stockkeeping units (SKUs), and of those requiring refrigeration, 7.3% are branded Rx products; 4.9% are generic Rx products, and a small number of OTC products. In 2015, while 100% of the distributors surveyed said that they handled cold-chain products, only a third of them monitor the temperature of shipments in transit, and the same number record those data. Surprisingly, given the heightened focus on good distribution practices generally, both those numbers are down from 50% recorded in the prior year. (HDA will also be publishing a specialty-pharmaceutical report, which will likely shed additional data on this.) On average, each DC has three employees exclusively devoted to cold chain processes.

For all SKUs, HDA members employ contract carriers for 81.2% of shipments, and “common carriers” like FedEx, UPS or the USPS for 1.0% of shipments. About 2.7% of shipments go by air.

For the first time in recent history, HDA is making this valuable report freely available. Click here to download a copy (free registration required).