Delicate pharmaceuticals require great care while in storage and during the shipping process. Therefore, a reliable and vigilant cold chain distribution system is essential in maintaining the integrity of these products. Many pharmaceuticals are extremely temperature-sensitive; requiring storage in an environment where temperature range is pre-defined to accommodate the specific temperature qualifications of the cargo. In most cases, the slightest spike outside this optimal temperature range may very well cause the quality of these products to be compromised.
Biopharmaceuticals and probiotics are among the most sensitive pharmaceuticals because they contain living organisms. They also contain certain proteins susceptible to damage from the slightest fluctuation in temperature. Therefore, temperature assurance is critical in the process of storing and shipping these products. Biopharmaceuticals and probiotics are especially vulnerable during transport, causing those in the cold chain shipping industry to develop reliable solutions that offer consistent shipping methods and sound insulated containers.
From 1999 to 2003, the biopharmaceutical market grew at an annual rate of 21 percent, according to Dr. Rafik H. Bishara, one of the world’s foremost authorities on cold chain solutions and temperature controlled packaging and shipping. This figure is much higher than the roughly 11 percent growth rate experienced in the traditional pharmaceutical markets during the same period.
Therefore, the temperature controlled shipping industry has come even more into focus as a vital link in the successful storage and distribution of these sensitive yet increasingly in-demand pharmaceuticals.
It is important then to keep biopharmaceuticals, probiotics and other pharmaceuticals consistently within their optimal temperature range throughout the duration of the shipping process. This is not always easy, as ensuring that a pharmaceutical shipment arrives at its destination uncompromised and in good condition can sometimes be a battle for cold chain facilitators. Holdups, delays and exposure to the conditions are just some of the factors that might threaten the integrity of a given pharmaceutical shipment. Failure to take the sensitive nature of a shipment into account as it passes through numerous airport handlers is another scenario that may play out.
There might also be occasions where extended delays in delivery result in a shipment’s overexposure to sunlight, or an otherwise hot couple of hours on a tarmac. Or the other extreme may apply, where a shipment is exposed to extreme cold for unexpected periods of time.
To sum up, in-transit challenges, environmental temperature changes, overzealous cargo handlers, multiple modes of transportation and lengthy exposure to various weather conditions are all trials a sensitive pharmaceutical shipment must at times survive in order to arrive at its destination successfully.
However, possible solutions could be on the horizon. Cold chain industry representatives are now working with airlines, freight forwarders and shipping companies to try to minimize the number of transfers and handlers involved in the process of shipping delicate temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. Progress is being made.