The Role of Cold Chain Logistics in the Pharmaceutical Industry

According to recent data, worldwide pharmaceutical revenues exceeded $1 trillion in 2014 — a first for the industry. Given that people are living longer, it’s no surprise that society’s reliance on superior medication continues to grow. And in order to provide high-quality pharmaceutical products, it’s essential for manufacturers, suppliers, and transporters to offer reassurance that these medications can be safely and effectively used by consumers.

To deliver on those promises, pharmaceutical storage conditions and delivery methods need to be both compliant and cutting-edge. In many cases, this comes down to temperature control. A process known as cold or cool chain delivery can allow those entities responsible for creating, shipping, delivering, and storing these pharmaceutical products to meet industry standards and safeguard these medications from corruption. In today’s post, we’ll discuss what’s involved in this process, why it’s so important, and what kinds of changes are continuing to impact these necessary techniques.

What Does Cold Chain Mean?

When products are created and distributed, the supply chain needs to be tracked in order to ensure the product is safe and complies with all necessary regulations. Cold chain refers to a specific type of temperature controlled supply chain, wherein the production, storage, and distribution of pharmaceuticals (and other products, in some cases) all share uninterrupted methods of refrigeration within a designated range. When these kinds of pharmaceutical cold storage and shipping techniques are used, it means that the product will always stay within a very specific temperature spectrum, assuring the quality and freshness of that item.

Why is Cold Chain Delivery Important?

In the pharmaceutical industry, cold shipping solutions and storage options are crucial across the board. In fact, seven out of 10 leading pharmaceutical products require temperature controlled transportation in order to ensure quality and safety. Although not every pharmaceutical product needs to be kept in a temperature controlled environment, the products that do require these techniques are typically quite perishable. In some cases, only a slight temperature difference can completely ruin the product and jeopardize patient safety or overall experience. In order to protect the public and their brand, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors must know for a fact that their products are being safeguarded from potential harm.

How is This Supply Chain Evolving?

Although maintaining pharmaceutical cold storage and transportation conditions might seem fairly straightforward, those operating within this industry often face a number of challenges. As time goes on, many of these pharmaceutical products are becoming more sensitive to environmental factors, as well as more customized for patient treatments. Because these products may contain high-value active ingredients with more limited shelf lives, they also come with more rigid temperature regulations. What’s more, many of these products are geared towards patients with rarer health conditions, meaning that the transportation and storage volumes required may not be as high. And because governmental regulations pertaining to pharmaceutical supply chains continue to increase, manufacturers and distributors must take a more active role in this process from start to finish for the sake of compliance. This means that pharmaceutical companies can’t lag behind in embracing cold chain logistics, regardless of their niche or product types.


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