BMS, Pfizer offload logistics to willing shippers

Shipping specialist UPS has a pharma logistics vision much like that of rival DHL: offload drugmakers of non-core ops tasks; assume as much of that responsibility as possible. The idea is also appealing to big pharma companies Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer as they look to cut costs.

"In UPS's vision, they want that customer to do everything with them," says UPS-watcher Kevin Sterling, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets. "It will allow them to pump more volume through their network."

UPS is doubling its health-care warehouse count in Louisville to four, a subset of 30 it runs around the world. It began handling healthcare goods in 2006 at its Supply Chain Solutions campus, near the company's global air hub at Louisville International Airport. Healthcare is the company's top growth area.

Healthcare is being good to DHL, too. Bristol-Myers Squibb recently turned over U.S. distribution responsibilities to the carrier's logistics unit, Exel. BMS is relieving itself of logistics and finished-goods distribution for drug products, some of which require cold chain handling, as well as distribution of clinical trial supplies, samples and exports.

BMS isn't the only big pharma to offload logistics. Pfizer turned over distribution operations and a facility to Exel late last year in an outsourcing arrangement. And Pfizer Australia has linked with DHL Supply Chain for direct-to-pharmacy deliveries, part of the drugmaker's new business model.

- see the Exel/BMS announcement