When people hear the words cold chain logistics, most often they think of food. However, as we explore better living through science, the pharmaceutical industry continues to increase and grow with impressive consistency. With this growth comes medications that require extra special care, specifically, cold chain services with multiple touch points to guarantee safety and viability.
The Need for Better Cold Chain Logistics
The need for more and better cold chain logistics comes from the simple fact there are more and more temperature-controlled drugs being created and they need consistent temperatures while being both stored and transported. Former Senior Director of Product Quality Management of Johnson & Johnson, Lisa Forian, says, “The storage and distribution of controlled room temperature [CRT] life science products are a costly and complex process, and requires attention at every level from packaging to logistics and monitoring to data.” With these specifications in mind, Cold Pharma has grown considerably in the last ten years, and Cold Chain Logistics must follow suit.
Counterfeit Drugs Impact Cold Pharma
Medication is a billion-dollar business, and unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies are not the only ones producing these drugs. Counterfeit drugs are now flooding the marketplace and threatening the well being of the public. The FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act was enacted in 2013 to “…enhance FDA’s ability to help protect consumers from exposure to drugs that may be counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful. The system will also improve detection and removal of potentially dangerous drugs from the drug supply chain to protect U.S. consumers.”
Cold supply chains are vital in the FDA crackdown on counterfeit drugs. The supply chain establishes a “pedigree” of sorts that show the flow of medication creation from manufacturing through retail dispersal. Supply chain also offers high-level visibility and trackability, creating an entirely transparent process.
How the Industry is Responding
The industry is taking the initiative and collaborating to serve Pharma and the public when it comes to the safety and viability of critical medications, specifically these professionals are tackling the process in three steps: learn, collaborate, and pilot. Learning relates to the complete understanding of all the requirements for safe Cold Pharma logistics. Some professionals are considering a certification in Temperature Assurance Packaging (TAP) to gain and employ the best information and provide clients with peace of mind. Through collaboration, logistics companies need to work holistically with all stakeholders to model and then build trackable supply chains with complete transparency. The pilot stage involves executing the plan and monitoring it step-by-step and adjusting as needed.
As Cold Pharma continues to grow, the cold supply chain will need to evolve and improve with the times. Expect to see more technology speaking to the physical flow and management of pharmaceuticals this year. And remember, not only will 3PLs help their customers deliver needed medications, but they can also feel good knowing their careful and detailed management will protect consumers from counterfeit drugs that could do them harm.