Rio de Janiero is now a Delta Cargo Variation Pharma 4 station, making it the first in Latin America. Effective June 13, the Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport (GIG) became one of only 49 airports around the world certified to handle Variation Pharma products, and one of a select 16 that can handle pharmaceuticals with a “4” designation.
Variation Pharma is a SkyTeam Cargo product that was developed for shipments requiring temperature control and monitoring. Commodities often include, but are not limited to, vaccines, medicines and pharmaceuticals. The Variation Pharma 4 designation is assigned to commodities that need to be shipped at or around room temperature. Shipments with this designation often are prescription drugs, biotechnology products and similarly sensitive shipments that must be maintained between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius. Delta Cargo’s Minneapolis customer service center is able to monitor shipments in transit.
Delta Cargo’s expansion of the Variation Pharma product is, in part, a reflection of the remarkable growth of biopharma as part of the larger pharmaceutical industry. A common feature of these advanced treatments is their high price-tag, which makes air cargo an economically viable form of transportation even more so than for conventional medicines. Moreover, biosimilar drugs are expensive enough that they require fast and sensitive supply chains – land and marine shipping are rarely viable options.
According to McKinsey, biopharmaceuticals generate global revenues of US$163 billion, or about 20 percent of the total pharma market. This class of drugs is the fastest-growing in the industry. The annual growth rate of more than 8 percent is twice that of conventional pharma, and this rate is expected to hold for the foreseeable future.
The number of biotech patent applications has been growing at 25 percent annually since 1995. There were more than 1,500 biomolecules undergoing clinical trials as of early 2015. In other words, this is a market that is likely to experience exponential growth moving forward.