A Guide To Temperature-Sensitive Medicines & Logistic Management
Temperature-sensitive logistics spreads its importance across many industries, from food & drinks through to cut fresh flowers and, perhaps one of the most significant to our wellbeing, the pharmaceutical industry. There are a great number of medicines that are temperature-sensitive and, therefore, need to be stored and delivered to their end location with care. Businesses such as our team at ICEOTEMP, offer an all-encompassing service that streamlines the journey of these vital medicines from their place of origin to the health care facilities that distribute them. The use of temperature controlled couriers and storage works to keep the health benefits of vaccines and other medicines at its optimal performance.
The importance of temperature control for the pharmaceutical industry
Within the pharmaceutical industry, logistics and the supply chain require medicines to be moved around safely. This demand necessitates the management of temperature and external forces to keep medicines in optimal condition. Certain goods including vaccines, insulins and some antibiotics need to remain at a consistent low temperature at all times. This is usually between the regulated bracket of 2 – 8 degrees Celsius (36 – 46 degree Fahrenheit).
Medicines that exceed this temperature limit will begin to depreciate in quality. Their potency is likely to reduce, resulting in sub-par results for the users. This leads to spoiled medicines which not only has the potential to be detrimental for your businesses reputation but can also lead to toxicity. Vaccines and antibiotics are used to prevent illnesses from becoming more severe. Spoiled medicines do the opposite, with many increasing the likelihood of toxicity. Therefore, appropriate storage and transportation are vital.
The NHS lays out clear guidance to its employees, stating the conditions they should expect medicines to be received. The ‘Temperature Management of Medicines Storage and Transport’ lays out the efficient safety procedures required by medical professionals when receiving deliveries. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medicines must be stored within the manufacturers’ recommended temperature range.
- Refrigerated medicines must be stored at 2-8 degrees.
- Most non-refrigerated medicines must be stored at less than 25-degrees (deemed as room temperature).
- Some medicines can be stored up to 30-degrees (depending on manufacturers advice).
- When a delivery is received, a designated person must check the order for leakage, damage or discrepancies (including expired medicines and correct transportation).
- All deliveries of refrigerated medicines must be unpacked immediately on arrival and placed in pharmacy/vaccine refrigerators.
How can temperature-controlled logistics support the pharmaceutical industry?
It’s evident from the research above and the abundance of information available online that temperature-controlled logistics is a vital player in the pharmaceutical industry. It is the responsibility of both the manufacturer and the assigned courier/storage company to maintain suitable conditions when entrusted with a medical delivery. Not only are business reputations on the line but also the health and livelihood of many people.
The first steps to a consistent, safe and efficient time-sensitive distribution system, is to consider storage. Purpose-built warehouses make use of cooling and heating units to maintain the desired temperature at all times. Once loaded with goods, these secure units can ensure a product is held in optimal conditions until the transportation is required. Well-structured temperature-controlled warehouses will use individual units, strategically placed throughout the space to ensure each one is able to maintain an individual temperature.
It is important to understand the external factors that can impact these ambient temperatures, regardless of the technology used. Some of these include:
- Electrical drops/failures.
- Air humidity
A good, focused logistical approach takes these factors into account and recognises their impact.
Once delivery is scheduled, medicines need to be transported at the same temperatures as their storage. Fluctuations in this can cause, as we have mentioned above, depreciation in the quality of medicines and put the risk of toxicity in question. Depending on the size or requirement of a delivery, temperature-controlled vehicles are then enlisted to support.
Everything from small vans through to larger vehicles and even HGV Trucks with expansive 8000kg capacities allow shipments of all sizes to be delivered. State-of-the-art technology includes dual evaporators, transcan temperature monitoring, yearly logs and remote temperature controlling from a depot, working together to maintain optimal conditions.
Again, there are a number of factors that can impact temperature, causing it to rise or drop for short periods of time. These include:
- Loading and unloading.
- Extended journey times (due to traffic or unplanned road works).
- Power cuts or shortages.
- Packaging (some materials maintain temperature better than others).
Again, a strong and well-structured logistics plan factors in these variables and implements processes that eliminate their impact.
Cross-Country Temperature Controlled Distribution – ICEOTEMP
As one of the leading distribution companies in the country, ICEOTEMP provides around-the-clock delivery and collection service with temperature-controlled storage available in the warehouse. With a large fleet of 22 vehicles ranging from smaller vans through to HGV trucks, we work with a large number of businesses to deliver their most important goods to the desired location.
If you would like to discuss how temperature-controlled distribution can support your business goals, please get in contact with us today.