Magazine Article | December 12, 2011

Insights To The Cold Chain

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

Welcome to our inaugural “Executive Insight: Cold Chain.” Temperature -controlled shipping? How hard can it be? When one considers that we are in a global economy, it can be very hard. Think about how many hands may have to handle a product to get it from point A to point Z, while maintaining the product within the required temperature range.

In a previous life, I was involved in the distribution of a prescription product that required temperature control throughout transport. A shipment in specialized cooler boxes would arrive at my home via common carrier. Temperature indicators would indicate if the product had been exposed to extreme temperature variation. The product was then inventoried and placed in a storage refrigerator or a vehicle car cooler. Neither the car cooler nor the refrigerator required monitoring thermometers. That is just one of the problems. The cooler had dual heating and cooling modes. Company policy was to always keep it on “cool,” even during days of extreme cold. On a hot summer day of 98 degrees fahrenheit, temperatures in a car can exceed 115 degrees. There were plenty of days when the car cooler drained the car’s battery attempting to keep the product cool. What if you forgot to plug in the car cooler? What if, when delivering the product, the receiving person allowed the product to reside at room temperature for an extended period of time? These things, as well as others, did occur. Perhaps the efficacy of the product was compromised by these issues?

Imagine some of the challenges that exist for delivering temperature-sensitive products where common modes of transportation involve camels and rickshaws? Did you know there is a solar-powered, eco-friendly, mobile cooler unit that fits on a camel?

I recently met someone with the Brother’s Brother Foundation. One of this charity’s missions is the effective distribution and provision of donated medical supplies, including prescription products, shipped to more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics overseas. I asked how they could verify that these products were transported within required temperature ranges. She commented that it was out of their hands once the products left the United States.

Temperature-controlled shipping is big business and going to get bigger. More companies are focusing R&D efforts on biologics, and they should also be focusing on cold chain. Here’s why. According to a recent study conducted by the United Kingdom-based Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), 43% of critical and major product deficiencies are related to ineffective temperature control and monitoring during storage and transportation. The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that 25% of all vaccine products arrive at their final destination in a degraded state.

This cold chain supplement is geared toward revealing some of the industry trends and technologies being developed to address global transportation challenges, or as I like to say, opportunities. I hope you learn something new, and I welcome your feedback.