For its health and quality assurance standards, logistics in the pharmaceutical industry is a challenging and complex process. We outline good practices to choose pharmaceutical 3PL shipping, transportation, warehousing & distribution in Mexico.

Challenges for the drug industry in Mexico

As with the rest of the world, the Mexican pharmaceutical market is undergoing significant changes. According to the portal Manufactura, pharmaceuticals lower their costs of distribution due to:
  • The arrival of drugstores supplying directly from laboratories.
  • The growth in the use of  generic medication.
  • The decrease in the number of medical laboratories in the market.
Inbound Logistics explains that global distribution of these perishables increases risk. In emerging markets, infrastructure issues come into play, such as:
  • The lack of proper temperature-controlled facilities.
  • Few transport options available.
  • Lack of handling capabilitie
  • Higher ambient and container temperatures.
Forbes México explains that procurement in the country shifted to consolidated purchases. For pharmaceutical companies, this means:
  • Large volumes of guaranteed sales.
  • A stretch in their pricing, which makes them run on low-profit margins.
  • Need to compensate by looking for more cost-effective supply chain solutions.
The World Health Organization explains that distribution is a significant part of the integrated supply chain management of pharmaceuticals. Many actors and entities are responsible for handling, storing and distributing those products. They add that,
“To maintain the original quality of pharmaceutical products, every party active in the distribution chain has to comply with the applicable legislation and regulations. Every activity in the distribution of pharmaceutical products should be carried out according to the principles of [good management practices] GMP, good storage practice (GSP) and good distribution practice (GDP) as applicable.”

Third party warehousing quality: not your standard stock depository

Enfasis Logistica explains that logistics is vital to maintaining a guarantee that medication has its quality. That helps to make sure that the product “keeps the features that are certified by the laboratory, which determine a safe and effective use.”

Pharmaceutical warehousing services in Mexico on pharmaceuticals must follow regulations in “plague control, cleanliness, tracking and monitoring of temperature, humidity and security”.

Distribution: keeping the right temperature conditions

Inbound Logistics explains that today, drug makers need more temperature assured distribution and handling. This is due to the dramatic change in biochemical products.
Any gap in this process can trigger a chain reaction. In global cargo logistics, they increasingly need product protection to prevent damages. Health authorities “require proof that products have not only been stored at the temperature stated on the label but also kept within an approved temperature range during transportation,” Inbound Logistics explains.

Transportation logistics: finding a specialized network


Inbound Logistics adds that the cold chain in pharmaceuticals requires specialized and compliant supply chain networks. These must be “tuned to moving product efficiently while protecting its integrity”.

“This network consists of the facilities and assets required to handle temperature-controlled cold-chain pharmaceuticals, as well as the IT systems needed to monitor and manage global product flows.”


  • Helps maintain good practices in transporting products.

  •  Keeps global logistics processes consistent over time.

  • Prevents threats to supply chain continuity.

“(…) temperature control, security, chain of custody and regulatory compliance obstacles can stop pharmaceutical manufacturers at every turn. Strategic supply chain management helps provide a way out.”

This distribution requires product traceability -at its best. The World Health Organization recommends following procedures “to ensure document traceability of products received and distributed, to facilitate product recall.”

“Delivery schedules should be established and routes planned, taking local needs and conditions into account. Such schedules and plans should be realistic and systematic. Security risks should also be taken into account when planning the schedules and routes of the delivery.”
This organization also expects good care to make sure that the volume of products ordered doesn’t exceed the capacity of storage facilities at a destination. In Mexico, this involves procedures to self-inspect and audit quality on a regular basis.

Turning to 3PL companies in Mexico

Inbound Logistics is conscious that with these challenges, “drug makers are turning to 3PLs that understand international shipping, and operate divisions devoted to the pharmaceutical supply chain.”
Consulting firm Cardinal Health is aware that choosing to go with a third party logistics provider (3PL) or working in-house is a tough decision. They explain at Pharmaceutical Commerce that:
“A recurring theme in this analysis is that many 3PLs, especially larger ones, have economies of scale because they are handling the varying demands of multiple clients. That scale is usually not available to the single manufacturer.”
They suggest reviewing considering these issues for 3PL shipping:
  • Thinking beyond the one-time infrastructure investment. Manufacturers don’t have the scale “to build, staff and operate the team, facilities, infrastructure, and processes needed to ship direct to customer”.
  • Check if you can you cost-efficiently staff “to handle ebbs and flows” in demand.
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