Med-X-Press GmbH

Blog #35: Cooling is cool

Natascha de Raad on active temperature-controlled pharmaceutical transports

By Natascha de Raad

Recently, I have often noticed the maneuverable delivery vehicles from Bofrost or Eismann on the streets. They deliver frozen food to German households, a branch of the food trade that has become an integral part of our shopping habits. I couldn't help but think how difficult it is to maintain a constant temperature for the food being transported, especially when outside temperatures are high, often exceeding 30 degrees in summer. In addition, the hold is repeatedly opened to remove products. A constant temperature of -18° C must be guaranteed for frozen food until it is delivered to the consumer. Failure to comply with the temperature conditions not only results in a spoiled product that ends up in the garbage can in an unsustainable way, but can also lead to serious health problems if consumed.  Why am I describing this as a representative of pharmaceutical logistics? Because the parallels with pharmaceuticals are obvious.

Medicinal products must be at the right temperature

Over the last few months, we at Med-X-Press have been working intensively on the transportation of pharmaceuticals due to current events, which I will discuss later. As pharmaceutical logistics specialists, we keep an eye on our customers' products throughout the entire supply chain. The "right" temperature plays an immensely important role for pharmaceuticals. The specifications are governed by the EU GDP guidelines, which generally determine how medicines are to be handled in terms of climate control on their way from the manufacturer to the patient. The specific regulations for the temperature to be maintained during the storage and transportation of medicines, vaccines or anaesthetics are specified by the pharmaceutical manufacturer - and consistent compliance with these specifications can be vital or life-saving. For pharmaceutical logistics, this means active temperature control in the warehouse and in the transport vehicle. Compliance with all standards increases the security of supply and makes an essential contribution to patient safety.  

Small deviation - big effect

And as far as temperature control is concerned, even small deviations can have serious consequences. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) points out that certain medicines can lose or even increase their effect if the temperature is exceeded. Specifically, we are talking about antihypertensive drugs such as beta-blockers or diuretics, dehydrating preparations. In an emergency, increased effectiveness can cause fainting with the risk of injuries from falls. In the worst case, the risk of a heart attack increases. However, these are the worst cases. We all share responsibility for ensuring that this does not happen. Patients generally handle medicines with care and ensure that they are stored appropriately, especially in summer and midsummer temperatures. We make sure that no irregularities occur in advance, on the way to the patient, that could cause harmful reactions. We have expanded our fleet with new sprinters and trucks. The ultra-modern two-chamber vehicles allow the delivery of products in different temperature zones and thus ensure maximum utilization of the space.


Eurotranspharma Germany

Dafür arbeiten wir beim Transport eng mit unseren Partnern zusammen und sind seit kurzem Teil eines neuen Netzwerks für die aktiv temperaturgeführte Distribution: Eurotranspharma Germany. Damit komme ich zurück auf meinen oben erwähnten Anlass: Med-X-Press ist Teil dieser Kooperation, die ihren Fokus ausschließlich auf den Transport von Arzneimitteln und Healthcare-Produkten legt. Dieses starke Partnernetzwerk befördert alle Sendungsarten in den Temperaturzonen 15°C bis 25°C und 2°C bis 8°C - und zwar inklusive der letzten Meile. Gestartet sind wir im Februar mit der Paket- und im März mit der Palettenauslieferung in der Temperaturzone 15°C bis 25°C.  Im August werden wir dann mit den Kühltransporten bei 2°C bis 8°C beginnen.
Für uns ist die Zusammenarbeit innerhalb von Eurotranspharma ein weiterer Meilenstein unserer Firmengeschichte. Denn wir können unseren Kunden nun ein Komplettpaket für den temperaturkontrollierten Transport anbieten – Full Service aus einer Hand. Die Infrastruktur des Netzwerks und die Ausstattung mit Fahrzeugen sichert eine flächendeckende, schnelle und sichere Auslieferung. Die neuen Sprinter und LKW sind einsatzbereit und ausnahmslos mit einem Zweikammersystem ausgestattet. Auf der Ladefläche können also gleichzeitig Produkte in unterschiedlichen Temperaturzonen dorthin gebracht werden, wo sie gebraucht werden. Die Implementierung aller notwendigen Prozesse und Tools für die Abwicklung von Kundenaufträgen lief zeitgerecht und störungsfrei. Die Teams von Med-X-Press haben ganze Arbeit geleistet und wir freuen uns bereits auf die nächsten Schritte. Ich werde Sie über die weitere Entwicklung auf dem Laufenden halten.

Digression: climate change and healthcare

Finally, a small digression: I associate the issue of refrigerated storage and transportation not only with patient safety, but also with the topic of sustainability, which, as far as pharmaceutical logistics is concerned, focuses far too much on CO2 emissions and neglects other areas.  We are feeling the effects of climate change in all areas of life, including the healthcare sector. We will have to deal with changes in pharmaceutical logistics in order to be able to provide answers in the medium term. Last but not least, climate-related illnesses, such as increased UV radiation or the spread of infectious diseases, will change and require innovative or adapted therapies. Pharmaceutical logistics companies, which offer far more services than storage and transportation - from IT to manufacturing - will have no choice but to rethink their business models in order to survive on the market with future-proof and sustainable services. The criteria of quality and safety in the interests of the patient also apply here.

If you are also concerned about these issues, please get in touch and share your experiences, ideas and assessments with me!

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Natascha de Raad
Geschäftsleitung Vertrieb und Marketing