By Joseph Harvey – editor of IHS Markit Animal Health (formerly Animal Pharm)
Originally published by IHS Markit Animal Health and re-published with author permission
US company Cryoport is making a bigger play of offering its logistical solutions to the animal health sector. Tony Thomas – the company's executive director of business development for animal health – told IHS Markit Animal Health editor Joseph Harvey what efficiencies Cryoport can bring to the shipment of veterinary medicines.
Cryoport is a US cold chain logistics company that has built a significant portfolio of customers in the human biopharma sector. Now, the company is striving to add more clients in the animal health industry.
The firm uses its technology and expertise to provide shipping for clinical trials and commercial distribution.
Tony Thomas stated: “We aim to provide trust and confidence during the most vulnerable phase of a journey for a product – from manufacturing to a patient. For us, that patient could be a human or an animal.
"The core of our business is condition monitoring. That's tracking and tracing. Our approach is from a Big Data perspective. We're courier-agnostic. So, we can look at data across all the major integrators or specialty couriers. We can analyze this data and use it to provide guidance and inform our customers."
The company began working in animal health in 2012, when it started providing its cryogenic storage and shipping containers for Pfizer Animal Health's vaccines. Mr Thomas said the firm then realized there was a huge unmet need for its services in animal health.
Cryoport's goal is to improve the security and efficiency of animal health companies' cold chain shipping units, while at the same time helping to reduce costs. The data gathered from the firm's containers allows clients to know exactly where their units are in the world, as well as the physical and environmental conditions impacting the shipments.
Mr Thomas explained: "The value of each shipment is significant. Our clients have millions of dollars of assets all around the world in aluminum tanks. If you're moving a few thousand doses in a large cryogenic shipment, you need to have a viable product once it gets to a customer. If your clients are administering a non-viable product, you're going to have a big morbidity or mortality problem. The economic consequences could be huge."
As of 2019, Cryoport started to concentrate its focus on gaining more clients in the animal health industry. The company’s services currently apply to the shipment of products that require controlled temperatures, such as vaccines and stem cell therapies.
Mr Thomas remarked: "I think there is a huge opportunity for very aggressive growth in the short term. A lot is lost by the pharma companies in the cold chain supply system – there is a huge unmet need. If you think about the economics of the livestock sector, margins are thin and there is a lot of pressure on price. The more we can increase efficiency and reduce the cost of delivering a product, it is obviously beneficial for the pharma companies. When I look at the horizon, there's just so much unmet need in the animal health space."
He suggested Cryoport will be able to widen its customer base in animal health beyond the top players, as innovation from start-ups comes to the fore even more in the coming years. At present, Cryoport provides its services to human firms working on regenerative treatments and immunotherapies – areas that are currently small in the animal health space but expected to grow, with a burgeoning number of start-ups working on monoclonal antibodies, gene therapies and stem cell treatments.
”Particularly in the genetic arena, I think we will see the animal sector surpass the human sector,” Mr Thomas commented. “The reason I say that is easier trial design and fewer regulatory hurdles.”
Animal health losses
Around 2-3% of shipments are lost in the animal health sector – a conservative estimate, according to Mr Thomas. These losses are the result of equipment failure (shipment tanks can crack and lead to a drop in temperature) or mistakes in logistics that lead to units being lost in cargo. These two issues are the loss factors that Cryoport can prevent with its technology.
Mr Thomas suggested losses in the animal health sector, depending on the specific company or the type of vaccine, could be worth $70,000 to $100,000 per shipment.
He said: “In production agriculture, it’s really a volume game. For human health, it might be one or two shipments per client. In livestock, there are a few regional production facilities that are supplying a client base globally.
"Animal health companies have a huge fleet of shippers that are scattered all around the globe. They have no direct means of track and trace or even having accountability to know where those shipments are. That's where we come to the table. We can prevent equipment losses because we test and validate all of the equipment, and we can prevent physical losses because we can track everything.
”Couriers are great from moving a barcoded box from point A to point B. When it comes to a life sciences product though, that’s not one of their core competencies.
"In the shipping world, the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line. There really are a lot of odds and ends in that equation that our team specialize in. We can analyze datasets and predict the best route or logistic solution for a particular journey."
For animal health, around 90% of Cryoport’s work is shipping finished products. The remaining 10% covers the delivery of other materials, such as cells and germplasm.
Cryoport also offers its clients budget management expertise for logistics, as well as biostorage capabilities for tissue samples or cell banks.