Why Big Pharma Can’t Afford to Put Off Cargo Monitoring


The U.S pharmaceutical industry is expected to exceed a valuation of $550 billion by 2020.

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With the increase in valuation comes an increased need by pharmaceutical companies to effectively and securely transport goods internationally using cargo containers.

Today, 3.5 million tonnes of medical and pharmaceutical cargo is transferred by sea, making it the most common mode of transportation for the pharmaceutical industry.

Despite the large reliance on shipping by sea, much of the cargo transportation remains exposed and blurry since pharma companies need to rely on third-party shipping companies for time-sensitive and valuable information about the status of their cargo.

To reduce risks and improve their ability to know where their cargo is at all times, pharmaceutical companies need to rethink the way they look at their supply chain and start investing in independent cargo monitoring solutions that offer real time information and alerts.

The Value of Pharmaceutical Cargo Theft

While developing a drug, passing clinical trials and getting approval for it is challenging, one of the most challenging tasks pharmaceutical companies have to do is make sure their products get to where they need to – and that means relying on shipping companies to transport the drugs to where they need to be and out of the hands of thieves.

Since 2011 there has been an increase in the volume of cargo theft in the entire western hemisphere, leading 57% of healthcare decision makers to place cargo theft deterrence technology as a high priority for them.

Cargo carrying pharmaceutical goods is incredibly appealing to thieves who take advantage of the rising rates of health insurance and the thriving black market to make a profit.  In fact, the ROI of cargo theft is estimated to be a whopping 29,900%, meaning that for every $1,000 invested in cargo theft, the return is equal to $300,0000. What this means for pharmaceutical companies is that they can no longer afford to ignore the importance of cargo monitoring.

How Pharmaceutical Theft Can Be Reduced or Prevented

One of the best ways to improve cargo security and transparency associated with shipping is by integrating an independent cargo monitoring solution on all containers carrying cargo.

While the companies providing the shipping services relay information to pharmaceutical companies, it is often too little or too late, and does not enable active measurements to be taken to reduce theft damage.

Real time cargo monitoring solutions that are not subject to jamming and other interruptions differ in that regard as they offer pharmaceutical companies the chance to get immediate notifications if the cargo is compromised and to react accordingly.

By implementing such solutions, pharmaceutical companies can reduce the reliance on the shipping company reports and increase their knowledge on the data that belongs to them about the exact location and status of their cargo. And with that data turned into actionable insights it has never been easier to take the right decisions about routes and carriers to reduce security events.

Security experts will tell you that the number one rule to prevent theft is deterrence. Thieves know that a theft on a monitored cargo can easily be traced back to them and therefore if they see a monitoring device on a container they will pass on to the next one that is free of IoT device.

Improving Quality Assurance Through Cargo Monitoring

Beyond monitoring cargo to ensure their goods are not targeted by thieves, pharmaceutical companies still have a lot to gain by integrating independent monitoring solutions on their cargo containers – particularly where quality assurance and control is concerned.

Since transportation by sea reduces the risk of damaged cargo due to temperature loss, it is the preferred mode of transportation for most of the worlds pharmaceutical companies.  Despite the reduced risk sea transportation has over air transportation, drug damages due to poor quality assurance and mismanaged temperature deviations is increasingly important to pharmaceutical companies.  

When containers are opened and closed without reason, or when cargo remains unplugged to electricity for extended periods of time at the port of departure, transshipment or destination port, the temperature within the container can rise and very quickly damage the drugs and cause substantial losses for the company.

When an independent cargo monitoring solution is in place, in addition to getting real time alerts if the containers deviate from their path or are compromised, pharmaceutical companies can get notifications if their cargo container is opened or if the temperature or humidity of the cargo drops or exceeds certain preset points. In doing so, not only do the pharmaceutical companies know exactly what is going on inside their containers, but they also have the information recorded and available in a way that is easily accessible in the future.

The Future of Pharmaceutical Cargo Monitoring and Advice From Us

Ultimately, in order to ensure their growth and retain their profitability in a new era of digital supply chain, pharmaceutical companies need to increase their involvement in everything concerning cargo monitoring. That means knowing where their cargo is at all times, and doing everything they can to reduce the chances of theft and increase their control over quality assurance and temperature.

So a few advice from us?

  1. Make sure you ship in a cool, dry place
  2. Keep away from thieves and illicit trade to prevent losses
  3. Know the location of your pharmaceutical shipments at all times

We recommend mixing our monitoring solution with your logistics provider.

The cutting edge Contguard solution offers advanced cargo monitoring capabilities, including cargo location alerts and temperature monitoring.

For more information about how Contguard can help secure your cargo, contact info@contguard.com today!

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