The global pharmaceutical market is growing exponentially and is estimated to continue its growth rate in the coming years. Most of the items contributing to this growth are sensitive products that are vulnerable to certain environmental conditions. Every year biologics worth billions of dollars are lost due to inadequate environmental conditions for their storage and transportation.
Cold chain facilities act as a preventive logistic process to ensure the safety of these sensitive pharmaceutical products during the shipping and storing phases. With the constantly growing demand for pharmaceutical products across borders, it is the need of the hour to develop better cold chain logistics and storage facilities to curb the enormous losses worldwide.
When do cold chain and storage facilities come into the picture?
For a patient, the process of buying and consuming pharmaceutical products is all about visiting the pharmacy and presenting their prescription. However, the process of pharmaceutical products reaching the customer traces way back to their development, manufacturing, shipment, storage, and distribution.
According to Dickson, cold chain facilities and cold storage for pharmaceuticals are crucial to ensure that the transportation of raw materials, finished goods, and other components required for the end product reach the correct destination safe and sound. The cold chain involves a complete supply chain process that uses numerous techniques and tools like data loggers.
How are data loggers used in cold chain and storage facilities?
Data loggers are electronic devices that assist with automated environmental monitoring. They contain sensors for measuring environmental components like humidity, air quality, CO2 levels in the air, temperature, and pressure. These devices are compact and do not require manual interference for gathering data records. They accumulate data and maintain a database to analyze and monitor environmental conditions.
Cold chains and storage facilities for pharmaceutical products install data loggers at various points to track the critical area’s temperature and other essential environmental conditions. Most pharmaceutical products require a specific temperature to maintain their efficacy, and data loggers help these facilities maintain this temperature.
With technological advancements, most cold chain and storage facilities use wireless technologies like Bluetooth or WiFi to enable data loggers. The data loggers offer information about the storage unit or cold chain logistics in a remote setup. Some data loggers are specially designed for pharmaceutical products in storage facilities and hospitals. They come with an alarm alert that notifies the authorities whenever the environmental conditions surpass the feasible range. This calls for immediate response and prevents minor variations from taking an extreme form and resulting in spoilage.
Need for better cold chain and storage facilities for pharmaceuticals
Pharmaceutical products fall under the most sensitive category in comparison to products from almost any other industry. From biological samples from clinical trials to finished products like Covid-19 vaccines, pharmaceutical components are sensitive to factors like humidity, heat, and light. Many chemicals used in these components are also vulnerable to shocks and vibrations.
These products are a hope for humanity due to their life-saving capacity. However, they are equally complicated to study, develop, transport, and store. Any carelessness to their safety or a breach of their standard environmental requirements can cause numerous side effects. In order to maintain their effectiveness, each raw material and finished good needs to be matched with their suitable environmental conditions and stored in a monitored setup.
Even the slightest disruption to their standard requirements in facilities like cold storage for pharmaceuticals can permanently spoil the product. These losses significantly harm and pose a massive threat to the industry, both from an economic and environmental standpoint.
The healthcare sector is complex, including numerous sensitive environments and products requiring accurate storage conditions. The industry has tried to keep up with its needs by employing various methods, from manual to traditional environmental monitoring. The exact number of damaged products is impossible to pinpoint since many of those ineffective products do not reach the end-user in the absence of adequate monitoring. However, with the assistance of advanced components like data loggers, cold chain facilities, and cold storage for pharmaceuticals these products can undergo better administration and maintenance.
Some points to consider in cold chain and storage facilities:
- Apt storage and handling methods for frozen and refrigerated elements
- Backup of thermometers and storage units
- Comprehensive strategies for cold chain maintenance
- Routine handling and storage practices
- Inventory management and emergency protocols
Pharmaceutical products are susceptible and have a high value that directly impacts patient safety and the overall healthcare infrastructure. The Covid-19 pandemic is a recent example of a drastic situation mellowed down by the power of pharmaceuticals like the Covid-19 vaccine. To maintain the quality of these products and the overall pharmaceutical sector, it is essential to pay attention to handling these goods in the cold chain and cold storage for pharmaceuticals.
Damaging factors for pharmaceutical products
There are numerous factors that can cause damage to raw materials and finished pharmaceutical goods. Some of these include:
- Exposure of humidity-sensitive goods to incorrect humidity settings in the freight compartment
- Dropping of packages during shipping, packing, distribution, or receiving
- Direct exposure to light causing chemical imbalances and reactions in some products
- Exposure to temperature conditions outside the safe range
- Vibrations and shocks during loading, transportation, or unloading
Solution – cold chain logistics
Some medical products might require constant room temperature, while some might need a freezing cold setting; in either case, installing and implementing cold chain logistics and storage for pharmaceuticals is crucial. These facilities help manage a supply chain of healthy and effective goods by maintaining precise environmental conditions. These facilities have been common in the food and beverages sector due to their popularity and demands across borders. With the pharmaceutical sector expanding its branches, it’s time for the industry to implement similar setups.
Moreover, cold chain and cold storage for pharmaceuticals help comply with government and medical regulations. These regulations vary by region and the nature of products. With advanced technologies like data loggers, cold chains can be customized in every unit to suit requirements without additional cost or labor.