Cold chain logistics, dating back to snow-based food storage, now ensures temperature-controlled supply chains for goods’ safety, particularly critical in pharmaceuticals. Minor temperature fluctuations can compromise drug efficacy and patient safety. Moreover, high-value pharmaceuticals become unsellable if temperature consistency isn’t maintained, leading to financial losses. This blog explores the five key phases of the pharmaceutical cold chain and the challenges associated with each. Our Chemicals expert, Jasper Heijnen, shares his perspective on the challenges for your pharmaceutical cold supply chain in the blog below.
Maintaining your pharmaceutical products on their restricted temperature is the first challenge. It is already vital that the products are being packed at the desired temperature. Cold chain packages are designed to keep the temperature constant, not to bring a shipment to the desired temperature. First to keep in mind with choosing the right packaging type is the desired temperature range of your product. Frozen products should be kept at a temperature of -18°C, while cool products can be kept between +2°C and +8°C. Choosing the right packaging depends on the amount, type of transport, transit time, environment, sustainability requirements and quality.
What should you keep in mind when moving pharmaceutical products from A to B? Modal choice is of course the obvious but also the characteristics of these transport modes. General factors to keep in mind are costs, speed, flexibility and safety. Most used in cold pharmaceutical logistics is intermodal trucking. To read more about these factors, please take a look at our other blog.
Another factor to keep in mind while transporting pharmaceuticals is the protection from theft. Theft does not only result in product loss for the seller, and a disservice to patients who need the medicines, these stolen medicines can also end up on the black market. While storing the goods is often very secure, most thefts occur during transit. Pharmaceutical company SensiTech even states that 75 percent of pharmaceutical product thefts occurs when the products are on the road. Securing products with GPS cargo tracking can be an solution. Another prevention is discrete labelling the packaging of the products, packaging that states what is inside can be an invitation to potential theft. Another tip is to reduce the handling of this cargo, the more handling and parties in the supply chain, the higher the risk of products being lost or stolen during the handling.
While storing pharmaceuticals, product specifications and requirements regarding sensitivity to moisture, air, light and heat need to be fully understood. The best place to store pharmaceutical products is often in a cool and dry place.
In addition, the warehouse provider must meet the regulatory standards outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These regulations for storage will be discussed in a separate blog.
While normal supply chains are restricted by multiple regulations, the cold supply chain has even more rules to overcome. Requirements obligate that carriers maintain temperature control logs to document the temperature of their cargo, often every hour. If the temperature logs are not filled correctly, multiple fines and even the change that commercial shipping license suspension can occur.
Due to all the characteristics of cold chain logistics, technology has developed massively regarding these features. Some of recent developments stated below:
So, what is the most challenging of the cold chain? Probably all the above mentioned since there are several links in the cold chain, value of these goods is higher and the health of the patients taking the medicines are at risk when these goods are not packed, stored and transported correctly. Estimated by Grand View Research Inc is that the cold chain logistics market size will reach 447,5 billion dollars by 2025 and therefore will continue to strive improvement in the packing, processing and cold storage procedures. It is therefore extremely important to be up to date with all changing elements like documentation needs, regulations, etc. as well as ways to improve your chain continuously. So, how to minimize the risks? Well, a common trend is to outsource the whole chain to a logistical third-party which has more experience and expertise with cold chain logistics. They are probably more up to date with all the regulations in the different countries, standard practices and have the connections needed for this complex chain.
At Broekman Logistics we have the knowledge, experience and connections to be this reliable logistic third party for pharmaceutical products. Not only can we provide the cold storage facilities, we’ve a broad network of reliable parties involved in this pharmaceutical industry. Would you like to know how Broekman Logistics can help you with your pharmaceutical challenges?
Please get in contact with our expert Jasper Heijnen.