GSK chooses Uruguay to set up its regional distribution center

The project represents a new milestone in the consolidation of the country as a trade and services hub for the pharmaceutical sector.
Publication date: 17/09/2021

The British pharmaceutical company GSK, with extensive experience in Uruguay, has once again chosen the country and will set up its regional distribution center, with which it aims to optimize transportation costs and reduce delivery times through the consolidation of cargo from Europe to countries in the Southern Cone.

The new center will be located in the modern facilities of the MVD Free Airport at Carrasco Airport, specially prepared for handling pharmaceutical products with the highest safety and quality standards. It will be able to supply regional markets with pharmaceutical products such as medicines for the treatment of asthma, COPD, allergic rhinitis, epilepsy, HIV, among others.

This project represents a new milestone in the consolidation of the country as a trade and services hub for the pharmaceutical sector.

The planned operation involves the reception of products from maritime shipments at the airport's Pharma Hub, from where they will be distributed to countries in the region, starting with Uruguay and Argentina, of products originating from its plants in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Brazil.

GSK's commercial manager, Ignacio Vincent, mentioned that "the choice of Uruguay as the scenario to carry out the distribution of its products is another example of the commitment that the company has had with the country for more than 80 uninterrupted years".

The strategic reasons that led the laboratory to choose Uruguay include, according to Vincent, its geographical location, macroeconomic stability, high levels of transparency, advances in connectivity and the existence of a regulatory framework that allows business development, among others.

Accompanying the announcement of GSK's new regional distribution center was the UK Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena, who congratulated the company on this new project "which brings Uruguay and the UK closer together," he said.

"Uruguay offers state-of-the-art hub capabilities, ensuring a continuous supply to Mercosur, and the UK provides state-of-the-art pharmaceutical supplies," Jayawardena said in his speech, while calling the initiative an "excellent example of a win-win situation".

The Investment & Aftercare manager of Uruguay XXI, Alejandro Ferrari, welcomed the initiative and highlighted the joint work carried out by the governmental investment promotion agency he represents with the international companies that choose Uruguay to develop their operations. He also highlighted the country as "a hub for trade and services, particularly for the pharmaceutical sector".

MVD Free Airport's general manager, Bruno Guella, mentioned that the announcement is the result of a process that began in 2017 during which the companies jointly explored, analyzed, modeled and verified that the benefits that Uruguay and MVD Free Airport offer were in line with GSK's needs. In this regard, to serve the company's operations quickly, securely and efficiently, MVD Free Airport implemented GSK's tailor-made solutions within module 2 of its Pharma HUB, adapting its infrastructures.

"We are proud that they have chosen Uruguay and the airport as a regional distribution center. We will continue to support GSK to make this bet a success, contributing to adapt their products to be able to reach the different markets in the region safely, quickly and efficiently," he added.

Uruguay a consolidated Pharma hub

The country has a long history in logistics and distribution activities for the region. Thanks to this, it has become a logistics hub of reference in the Southern Cone, in which pharmaceutical companies are the main players, developing their activity as captive distribution centers or through specialized logistics operators. In addition to these, there are a series of suppliers that complete the chain, such as carriers, freight forwarders, dispatchers and specialized cold chain suppliers.

The regulatory framework, geographical location and installed infrastructure are the main attractions offered by Uruguay for this segment of activity.

Uruguay's logistics hub is currently made up of 24 companies, a figure that has remained stable over the last three years. Most of them are foreign multinationals, employing some 900 people in 2020. Transits of pharmaceutical products reached US$ 670 million in 2020, a figure that almost triples the amount exported by the sector. In the last five years they averaged US$ 600 million.

Farma HUB Group

With the aim of strengthening sectoral work and due to Uruguay's potential as a logistics hub, Uruguay XXI has been working since 2018 with the different actors of the logistics chain linked to pharma and supply chain to generate an area of public-private articulation in which to channel proposals to improve the business environment and enhance the value proposition through promotional activities, both locally and abroad.

This chain is made up of companies -mainly foreign-, logistics operators, freight forwarders, land and air transportation companies, free trade zones, logistics operators, ports and airports, among others.

Learn more about opportunities in the pharma sector here.