Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

UPS buys Marken to increase life sciences offering

Steve Rogerson
November 22, 2016
UPS is to acquire North Carolina-based Marken, a provider of supply chain services to the life sciences industry. The transaction, which provides UPS with growth opportunities across the life sciences customer base, is expected to close this year, subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Clinical trials require strict regulatory compliance, streamlined logistics services and global reach. Marken operates a global network of clinical supply chain services to meet the increasingly complex demands of its clients. The acquisition of Marken follows multiple UPS acquisitions that have expanded the company’s healthcare logistics services portfolio.
“Healthcare logistics is a strategic market for UPS,” said Teresa Finley, UPS business services officer. “Our acquisition of Marken strengthens our portfolio and demonstrates our commitment to customers. We plan to offer new solutions to our customers and generate further growth opportunities for UPS.”
Marken’s Sentry device is designed for the pharma industry and provides GPS technology available for drug shipments. It provides real-time, track-and-trace capability through custom-designed software that monitors and reports location, temperature, motion, shock, light exposure (open box), atmospheric pressure and remaining battery life.
Marken also offers geo-fencing at all airports and can customise geo-fence points and status updates for each validated shipping lane. The device transmits in real time and communicates through customised cloud based software, which integrates directly with Marken’s Maestro IT system. The device and software are protected by over 15 approved patents and is approved for use on more than 40 airlines.
“We are excited to join the UPS organisation,” said Wes Wheeler, Marken’s chief executive officer. “UPS’s capabilities, particularly in mature markets, will provide many opportunities for us to enhance our service offerings in clinical trials logistics. With UPS, we will improve our efficiency, while continuing to provide our clients with the high-touch, personalised services that they have come to expect from us.”
Wheeler will continue to lead the Marken business, which will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPS.
Pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organisations and contract manufacturers rely on Marken for collection and transportation of clinical trial material and investigational medicinal products to 49,000 clinical trial sites, as well as the shipment of biological samples from these sites to central laboratories. These shipments are time- and temperature-sensitive, and their rapid, on-spec delivery is a key factor in the treatment of patients and the success of the clinical trial.
The company has more than 650 employees with an asset-light operating structure and 44 locations worldwide, including ten depots that are compliant with GMP good manufacturing practices. Marken provides high-touch service to pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and contract research organisations engaged in all phases of the clinical trials process.
“UPS is focused on the logistics complexity of clinical trials, and the acquisition fits well into our long-term growth plans in the biopharma segment,” Finley said. “Marken’s significant industry expertise and flexible network, combined with UPS’s vast integrated global air and ground networks, will provide the life sciences industry with an attractive portfolio of global logistics options.”
UPS offers a broad array of specialised services for healthcare and life science companies. In July, UPS announced expanded logistics capabilities for clinical trials. The company’s network includes temperature-sensitive storage and transportation from ambient and controlled-room temperature, to frozen and cryogenics, 24-hour monitoring and security.
The Atlanta-based company has more than 100 healthcare-dedicated facilities with 60 GMP-compliant locations strategically positioned within global markets. Shippers have the ability to customise services from the Temperature True, Proactive Response, WorldShip, Quantum View and other portfolios that leverage expertise in packaging, labelling, monitoring and storage.
JP Morgan served as the financial advisor to UPS. UBS Investment Bank acted as the financial advisor to Marken.
Marken’s more than 650 staff members manage 50,000 drug and biological shipments every month at all temperature ranges in more than 150 countries. Additional services such as biological kit production, ancillary material sourcing, storage and distribution, shipment lane verification and qualifications, as well as GDP, regulatory and compliance consultancy add to its offerings in the pharma and logistics industry.