DUBAI – To ensure that there is “global consistency” in the way temperature-sensitive materials are handled, the cool chain industry needs to institutionalize best practices, through certifications – such as Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV-Pharma) and Good Distribution Practices (GDP) – and also through proper training, said panelists here yesterday at the fourth Pharma and Biosciences Conference of the Cool Chain Association.
“We see a huge variation across the world,” said speaker Andrew Lester of Expeditors, explaining that while certification by U.K. authorities can take up to two days, the process across the Atlantic in the United States requires about 45 minutes.
Representatives of pharmaceutical manufacturers were also on hand to add their concerns as shippers. One pharma rep said that if a forwarder could guarantee ideal cool-chain conditions for two years out, he would sign a contract that day.
While carriers and forwarders undertake the heavy-lifting of transit of pharma products, the responsibility for goods damaged in transit ultimate lies with pharma companies. Gino Vluegels of Johnson & Johnson noted that, if a patient received a defective inoculation, healthcare providers were unlikely to go after the carrier. With reputations on the line, as well as billions of dollars in goods, he said, pharma companies were anxious to see best practices implemented all along the logistics chain.
Lester, of Expeditors, also said that with pharma shipments, unlike with other perishables like food, it is often impossible to tell when a load has been compromised, even after examining the products. He stressed that training and documentation were critical in detecting and preventing such occurrences. Without standards in place, such as the EU’s GDP, forwarders are forced to undertake these assurances themselves.
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