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4 Things to Know About Pharmaceutical Distributors and Vaccine Distribution

Pharmaceutical distributors direct lifesaving medicines to the frontlines, while continuing to meet the daily healthcare needs of all Americans.

The successful development of COVID-19 vaccines will mark a groundbreaking step in our fight against the pandemic. However, the massive demand for approved vaccines and therapies will require extensive coordination between the pharmaceutical supply chain and the public sector.

Pharmaceutical distributors ensure vaccines are distributed safely and efficiently to point-of-care sites across the country. As we finalize a COVID-19 vaccine, the distribution industry is employing well-established distribution networks, securing the vaccine supply, partnering with federal and state governments, and maintaining transparency and communication throughout the process.

Here are four things you should know about pharmaceutical distributors and vaccine distribution.


1. Distributors maintain the infrastructure to deliver medicines across the country — from large cities to rural communities.

As the logistics experts of healthcare, distributors play a critical role in the effort to transport vaccines to where they are most needed. The industry has spent years building these networks by maintaining strong relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers and provider partners across America.

Technologically advanced distribution warehouses, strategically located throughout the country, allow distributors to deliver medicines quickly, safely, and reliably. Sophisticated ordering systems and efficient shipping networks ensure that all communities have access to vital new treatments. Distributors regularly deliver medicines and healthcare products to healthcare facilities located in remote rural communities and busy urban centers.

2. Distributors have experience transporting specialty products, safely and securely, and possess unique storage and transportation capabilities.

They are prepared to handle complex storage and transportation requirements for any new treatments. Many of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates will require precise temperature controls. Distributors use cold chain shipping for specialty drugs already on the market. The industry has invested heavily in cutting-edge temperature-controlled supply chain protocols to ensure that products are handled at the required temperature.

Learn more about PHC Corporation, a global leader in development, design and manufacturing of laboratory equipment for biopharmaceutical, life sciences, academic, healthcare and government markets. 

3. Distributors work with manufacturers to help bring new treatments and cures to market.

In the lead-up to a vaccine, distributors help ensure inventories are pre-positioned in the supply chain to facilitate ready access to providers; drugs are available to providers as swiftly as possible; treatments and vaccines can reach facilities designated under each state’s emergency preparedness plan; and, distribution plans comply with existing regulations.

4. Distributors already deliver a range of vaccines from the seasonal flu to more complex immunizations.  

More than 150 million doses of the flu vaccine were produced and distributed during the 2017–2018 flu season. Distributors continue to play a central role in delivering these products to dispensing sites. Additionally, many distributors provide resources to help pharmacists and providers with ordering and inventory management.


The pharmaceutical distribution industry stands ready to work with manufacturing partners, providers across the country and all levels of government to make sure American patients have continued access to vaccines, medicines and other healthcare products during COVID-19 and beyond.

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