DHL, American Airlines Cargo report lists challenges, solutions for personalised medicines

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July 11, 2019: DHL Global Forwarding and American Airlines Cargo have outlined the logistical challenges and opportunities posed by personalised medicine, also known as targeted or precision medicine, in a joint report. 

Titled “Patients, Processes and Partnerships: The Path to Personalized Medicine in Latin America”, the report provides a detailed look at the future of medical logistics in the Latin American region. It also highlights four key solutions to help navigate the logistical, economic, political and geographic complexities in the Caribbean and South America. 

Personalised medicine factors in gender, weight, and DNA to tailor treatments according to each person’s needs. An extension of traditional approaches to treating disease, in personalised medcines physicians are able to pinpoint a patient’s molecular profile and suggest the right therapy. However, this makes it impractical to ship large pallets to set locations.

“With personalised medicine, companies will need to deliver solutions directly to people rather than to institutions, which will change how we view — and transport — medical treatments,” said Patricia Cole, managing director, Same Day & LifeConEx, DHL Global Forwarding. 

“This shift will present a huge challenge to the already complex logistics involved in delivering pharmaceutical solutions, many of which have very strict — and varied — temperature and timing requirements to remain effective. We believe the success of personalized medicine will rely on how well the logistics industry responds to the operational issues involved,” added Cole.

The report also discussed the challenges and complexities in healthcare in Latin America. There are no regional standards for medical shipments, so each logistics provider must work to meet each country’s regulations, such as sterilisation labelling, transportation modes in varied terrains, accessibility to well-equipped facilities and qualified doctors. 

Economic and political stability also play important roles in how healthcare is delivered within countries, it said. Even when countries offer top-notch healthcare systems, not all residents have equal access to the same resources: hospitals, medical personnel, technology, or even simple Internet access.

“As an industry, we must invest in new technology and next-gen solutions, including intelligent IT networks, big data analytics and AI, but also in our people and processes to ensure we can deliver what our customers need more effectively, efficiently and precisely,” said Roger Samways, vice president, Sales, American Airlines Cargo. “By working hand in hand with medical professionals, corporations and governments, logistics and supply chain professionals can begin to solve the personalised medicine puzzle that is coming.” 

Apart from identifying the challenges, the report also listed out solutions for the personalised medicine logistics chain. 

Data analytics for cold chain intelligence like artificial intelligence, self-learning systems, data mining and pattern recognition solutions that can learn from a constant stream of information; innovations in technology like integrating pilot use cases for drones that will enable further exploration of emergency logistics response tactics, particularly for last mile considerations in precision medicine distribution; treatment based logistics & distribution programmes, and increased collaboration between forwarders and carriers were provided as solutions. 

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