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What is Cold Storage and How Does it Affect Pharmacies?
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What is Cold Storage and How Does it Affect Pharmacies?

The pharmaceutical cold storage industry is a vast market worldwide. Many companies are constantly working on solutions to transport and handle pharmaceutical products while maintaining their efficacy. The pandemic we have all been dealing with increased the demand for cold storage due to the need to transport Covid-19 vaccines to remote areas.

Managing cold storage facilities and establishing a cold chain requires synchronized processes, transporting equipment, active coordination, and adherence to multiple regulatory compliances. Even the tiniest error can cause a big shipment to go waste. And when we consider these errors concerning the pharma sector, we realize how cold storage transporting of drugs and vaccines decides the health and future of the masses.

The relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and  plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality, health, and wellbeing of the population. But before we discuss this relationship, let’s understand the basics of cold storage.

What is cold storage?

Cold storage is a facility that allows temperature control to store and maintain temperature-sensitive products like chemicals, food items, and pharmaceutical products. When we integrate the  storage facility with transportation and storage, the entire supply chain is known as a cold chain.

A cold chain is a combination of cold storage facilities providing constant refrigeration of the product from the moment of its production, across transportation, storage, and up to the point of delivery.

How do pharma and cold storage go together?

Initially, the pharmaceutical industry was not involved with cold storage and cold chain logistics. The reason was that most of the vaccines and drugs did not require a temperature-controlled environment for storage and transportation. Eventually, the cold chain became an essential part of pharma due to the growing development and demand of a new class of drugs, biologics.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that biological products include a wide range of products such as vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapy, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins.

Biologics have taken over the health and pharmaceutical market despite being introduced relatively recently. The reason for this immense demand is the treatment capability they offer. To sustain these biologics, the manufacturers need to maintain a cold chain and provide a temperature and time-controlled distribution.

Pharmaceutical cold chain management is also essential for providing a continual stock of drugs and vaccines from suppliers across different geographical locations. A recent example is the Covid-19 vaccines, transported across the globe by various manufacturers from diverse areas.

The rise in demand for cures and drugs for combating the increase in lifestyle and chronic diseases is directly reliable on cold storage and cold chain facilities. As the pharma sector rises to the healthcare challenges, they require temperature control and transportation facilities for many products.

What are the challenges faced by pharmaceutical shippers? 

Achieving optimum supply conditions and maintaining a good supply chain is not easy. Many temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments contain products that various company’s handle during transport from the manufacturer to the consumer. Quality assurance across this entire cycle requires a proper combination of temperature control and monitoring tools like data loggers.

The greatest challenge in transporting pharmaceuticals is maintaining the temperature within a range of 2°C (35.6°F) to 8°C (46.4°F) throughout the delivery cycle. The cold chain helps ease the pressure by offering a balanced and optimized facility that protects the products from damage and maintains their efficacy in a secure environment.

Poor cold storage facilities might add to the chances of loss and damage for temperature-sensitive drugs like the Covid-19 vaccines. While various shipping companies transport these vaccines to remote areas and locations with warm temperatures, cold chains act as the only security shield to protect their effectiveness. A proper supply chain for these vaccines includes temperature-controlled vehicles, specialized packaging, cold storage warehouses, and real-time temperature, humidity, and shock data. This data is constantly studied to update and improve cold chain processes.

Why are cold storage logistics necessary for the pharmaceutical industry?

The growing demand for temperature-controlled products has gained relevance in the health care sector. Many products demand temperature-controlled storage and distribution to maintain their efficacy and properties. With the development and research for advanced therapies derived from human cells, experts expect to witness continual growth in the need for cold storage. All biological materials are susceptible to temperature change, and it is the responsibility of cold chain facilities to safeguard these elements.

According to Dickson Data, pharmaceutical supplies also include large molecules, complex mixtures, and biologically derived materials that are chemically fragile. Any exposure to these supplies with high temperatures can ruin their composition and affect the studies related to them. The pharmaceutical industry is highly reliant on cold storage for pharmaceuticals and cold chain facilities to prevent the deactivation and degradation of these supplies.

Cold chain management is also joining hands with technology and advanced equipment like data loggers, temperature sensors, and cloud computing solutions. Moreover, these new devices and transformations offer real-time monitoring, better safety, and better data accumulation with integrated functioning.

One area of particular emphasis is the development of adequate cold storage facilities. Many cold chains include data loggers that are technologically advanced to send alerts in case of any disruption to the temperature and stability of the shipment. Most temperature-managed vehicles today have GPS capabilities that offer live tracking and reporting.

Pharmaceutical products that are vulnerable to high temperatures can become less effective and even toxic in some cases if the suggested temperature is not maintained. Many substances lose their therapeutic properties if frozen. In either case, the damage can cause severe repercussions for the health and wellbeing of individuals. Along with health hazards, every damaged shipment is a tremendous economic and logistical loss for the manufacturer, distributor, and supplier. Therefore, the collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and cold storage facilities is imperative.

Cold storage significantly impacts the pharma industry as it heavily depends on it. The lack of cold storage facilities and cold chain management makes it impossible for pharmacies to guarantee the efficacy of the drugs they supply. The margin for error in the storage and handling of pharmaceutical products is very narrow, and technology is a critical component in smoothly executing this process.


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