Pharmaceutical Shipping Costs Spike in Response to Global COVID-19 Pandemic

AAM Survey of Biosimilars and Generic Drug Manufacturers Reveals Average of 224% Increase In Cost of Transporting Drugs

WASHINGTON, DC (April 30, 2020) — The cost of shipping pharmaceuticals to the United States has risen sharply as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey of generic drug manufacturers conducted by the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM). The survey of AAM’s generic and biosimilar drug manufacturers revealed that travel and transport costs have skyrocketed 224% on average, with at least one manufacturer reporting as much as a 413% increase in shipping expenses compared to the same costs before the crisis. Generic drugs account for 90% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States.

As a result of the global slowdown and restrictions placed on international air travel resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a dramatic reduction in airline flights that carry pharmaceuticals and available cargo capacity. Government mandated work from home orders, along with unpredictable trade and export restrictions, have further exacerbated the difficulties supplying medicines during a time of significantly increased demand for treatments.

“The global pharmaceutical ecosystem is built on a highly complex supply chain,” said Jeff Francer, interim CEO of the Association for Accessible Medicines, the trade association representing the world’s generic drug manufacturers. “Despite serious challenges and increased costs in transporting needed medicines, manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines continued to deliver for America’s patients. However, this ongoing crisis illustrates the importance of developing new strategies and policies that enhance the pharmaceutical supply chain in the U.S. and increase our nation’s self-sufficiency.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines are working around the clock to ensure America’s patients have access to the medicines they need. Although the global pharmaceutical supply chain is straining under unrivaled stress and demand, the makers of 9 out of every 10 prescriptions filled in the U.S. are rising to the challenge. To help stakeholders better understand the global pharmaceutical supply chain, AAM has prepared a suite of tools and resources that can be found here.


Rachel Schwartz


About AAM

AAM is driven by the belief that access to safe, quality, effective medicine has a tremendous impact on a person’s life and the world around them. Generic and biosimilar medicines improve people’s lives, improving society and the economy in turn. AAM represents the manufacturers and distributors of finished generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, manufacturers and distributors of bulk pharmaceutical chemicals, and suppliers of other goods and services to the generic industry. Generic pharmaceuticals are 90 percent of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. but only 22 percent of total drug spending. 

Association for Accessible Medicines


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