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Pharmaceutical Cold Chain Risks and How to Mitigate Them

Shipping temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals involves a range of risks that can impact the quality, safety, and availability of life-saving treatments for patients. Nick Gilmore, Global Head of Sales and Marketing of Tower Cold Chain, explores how risk can be mitigated through strategic partnerships with specialist temperature-controlled packaging suppliers.

The pharmaceutical industry is growing at a rapid rate, and as the most current data from Statistica has demonstrated, it has now surpassed the $1.48 trillion mark in revenue. With such growth comes an increased level of complexity in the pharmaceutical supply chain, and thus, the reason why implementing best practices for managing risk is crucial.

Securing the integrity and quality of medical and biological products during transportation stands as a pivotal challenge for both pharmaceutical manufacturers and logistics providers. With many biopharmaceuticals requiring strict temperature control from manufacturer to patient, precise handling and storage are essential. The potential loss of cargo poses a significant risk to patient health and wellness. Coupled with increasing regulatory requirements whilst serving an international market, players need to implement robust quality assurance practices to mitigate these risks and ensure products are transported reliably across the supply chain.

Reliable Shipping

Timely delivery, intact condition, security and a stable temperature – these are the fundamentals required for successful pharmaceutical shipping, and it’s here that the choice of temperature-controlled solution and supplier makes all the difference.

Manufacturers require a container robust enough to safeguard its contents, and eliminate breakage, throughout the various pressures faced during international freight. Such a container needs to effectively regulate temperature, remove manual intervention, and prevent excursions that might compromise the efficacy of the cargo. And finally, an optimal packaging-to-payload ratio is required, adhering to transport safety regulations.

Yet fundamentally, every solution available on the market does the same thing. The use of temperature-controlled containers ensures palletised delivery of pharmaceutical shipments, in a way that keeps the product safe from physical damage and temperature excursions. Yet the distinction lies between the suppliers, in terms of how well-equipped they are to mitigating risk.

Increasingly, pharmaceutical manufacturers are partnering with cold chain shipping providers with risk-first mindsets. Knowledge of the nature of the supply chain’s risks is the first step in establishing supply-chain resilience.

Cold Chain Weak Spots

Transfer points where multiple stakeholders are involved in the handover and stopover elevate the chance of damage and/or temperature excursion. This often occurs during the unloading and loading process, through either improper handling or through delayed shipments sitting on tarmac or storage depots.