Until now, Brussels Airport has carried the torch as the only airport hosting an entire cargo community that has been certified under IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators for Pharmaceutical Handling (CEIV Pharma) program. But that is about to change. At Air Cargo Americas in Miami in early November, IATA announced that Miami International Airport (MIA) has become the first airport in the United States, and only the second in the world, behind Brussels, to adopt a community approach to CEIV certification.
“The CEIV pharma certification program ensures the participants in the air cargo value chain have the tools to operate at the highest standards for the transport of what in many cases are lifesaving drugs and medicines,” said Peter Cerda, regional vice president for the Americas at IATA.
The Miami Dade Aviation Department seems to agree, and has sponsored six of the major cold-chain players at MIA to undergo the extensive training program required to gain certification. As was the case at Brussels, these include not just airlines, but also forwarders and road transport providers. The six companies that have committed to training for CEIV certification in Miami are Amerijet International, Brink’s Global Services, Centurion Cargo, Consolidated Aviation Services, LAN Cargo and Liaison Can/US.
Why Miami, and why now? As a major freight hub for goods flowing into and out of the U.S., MIA is an ideal hub for a CEIV program. “Miami is a natural choice because of its vast global connections,” said Leandro Moreira, the life sciences director for Brink’s Global Services. He added that this is only the first round of companies going through the training. “When you look at Brussels, in the second round they had a waiting list,” Moreira said. So, indeed, he expects more companies to recognize the importance of the certification. “It’s all about the patient at the end of the supply chain – it’s a positive for the patients.”
Once the MIA community members earn their CEIV certification, the airport’s entire cargo operation will be able to tell customers that pharmaceutical goods transported through the hub will be handled – at every stage in the process – in accordance with the very best practices. The ability to make this claim could lead to substantial benefits in this rapidly growing field.
The total value of pharma products transported through MIA has increased by 79 percent since 2010, and in 2014 MIA handled pharmaceutical shipments worth US$3.28 billion. This is a significant amount of business, but Miami- Dade Aviation Department director Emilio González said he expects CEIV certification will allow the airport to attract new pharma business from “untapped markets across the globe.”
Two of Moreira’s colleagues at Brinks, Michelle Valsega, senior manager quality and compliance, and Helcio de Araujo, senior manager network and operations, are IATA instructors for the CEIV program. In parallel to the CEIV certification program at MIA, Brink’s Global Services and individuals from different companies and industries involved in life sciences, spearheaded the formation of a new nonprofit organization called The Health Technologies Distribution Alliance (HTDA). The group was formed in September 2015 to help address the need for increased innovation, standardization, and compliance in the areas of drug development, manufacturing and distribution. Moreira said discussions about forming the HTDA began two years ago, with stakeholders ranging from scientists involved with the initial discovery of medical treatments all the way to the airport operators, shippers, forwarders, ground handlers and airlines that make up the supply chain.
Although HTDA is headquartered in Miami, Moreira said it is a global alliance formed to facilitate safety for the patient, who is ultimately the main beneficiary of all this attention to detail. From clinical trials, to promoting regulatory compliance, identifying needs and emerging markets, HTDA plans to address the needs of people in areas with rapidly growing patient populations. The group recognized that, like Brussels before them, the many links in the pharma chain at MIA all had to work together as a tight-knit community and learn with each link in the chain committed to maintaining temperature and quality protocols.
Photo left to right: Leandro Moreira, life sciences director for Brink’s Global Services; Juan Kuryla, director of the Port of Miami; Peter Cerda, IATA regional vice-president; Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County.
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