People involved in air cargo talk of “end of runway” activities—i.e., things done just before the aircraft is loaded up and takes off—but there are few “end of runway” pharmacies. The exception might be Medvantx, which operates a pharmacy within the UPS Louisville warehousing campus, which includes the UPS WorldPort airport, handling global deliveries on UPS aircraft. Medvantx and UPS announced this capability in 2014, and now, says Medvantx, the facility has been doubled in capacity, and processed $3.5 billion worth of pharma products, including sensitive temperature-controlled ones, last year. The pharmacy is licensed and has GMP-compliant storage, and can provide packaging and labeling services.
Why the end-of-runway location? Simply, to provide fast direct-to-patient services and late-in-the-day order processing, on a national basis. Medvantx says that it accepts orders up to 1 a.m. ET, and is capable of delivering product to a location by 10:30 the same morning. “This is more about business rules than about the type of product being prescribed,” says Robert Feeney, CEO of Medvantx. While there are a range of capabilities at UPS’ campus to handle complex pharmaceutical logistics, Medvantx’ pharma customers are looking for the ability to engage with consumers within 24 hours of a prescription being written or an order being processed, he says.
“Direct-to-patient services are a growing trend,” said Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare and Life Sciences. “We are pleased to help customers like Medvantx meet specialized, priority needs for critical therapies with a robust supply chain that enables better health and business growth.”
Medvantx is in discussions with UPS to create additional hubs in various parts of the country that will expand its reach. At the back of Feeney’s mind—and that of many pharmacies and brand owners—is the looming prospect of Amazon taking a significant role in prescription fulfillment. “We want to be able to offer the pharma industry parity with Amazon services,” says Feeney.