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Niranjana Neelakantan

Co-Founder & COO of TESSOL

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Cold Chain Logistics Providers & Pharma Sector: The Need For Steadfast Cold Chain Logistics For A Secured Transportation Of Pharmaceutical Stocks

Medical technology is making fast progress and many treatment options require highly specialized products and samples which are very sensitive and, in many cases, highly volatile.

The need for safe and secure movement of pharmaceutical stocks has always existed, and so has solutions for the same. However, the pandemic has created an increased awareness towards the issue and we are all now equally concerned about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine being administered to us. We have realized that the vaccine is only as effective as the cold chain being used to bring it to our doorstep. Cold chain logistics solutions for secured transportation of pharmaceutical stocks has hence become a household concern. This increased consumer awareness and hence the pressure for adoption of effective cold chain practices has given the much-needed impetus to many logistics and pharmaceutical companies, allowing them to design and adopt specialized solutions.

Medical technology is making fast progress and many treatment options require highly specialized products and samples which are very sensitive and, in many cases, highly volatile. Treatment options like stem cell therapy, biomarker testing, cellular therapies etc. involve movement of samples and medicines which are not just temperature sensitive, but also sensitive to shock, light, humidity and other ambient conditions.In most of these cases, the treatment is only as effective as the cold chain that carries the samples/medicines. These high value products also have very stringent compliance requirements which call for highly specialized transportation solutions. Hence such treatment options require highly specialized packaging and logistics solutions that guarantee efficacy and quality of delivery. Such scenarios in medical treatment are creating increased dependencies between logistics solution providers and pharmaceutical companies.The success of the currently booming pharmaceutical e-commerce market also will also to a great extent depend on right choice of cold chain solutions by e-commerce brands. In India too, with many large brands offering home delivery of medicines and home collection of blood samples, it has become extremely important to have reliable and viable packaging and transportation solutions.

Traditionally most pharmaceutical shipments, especially those which are smaller in size, was done using dry ice or gel packs. During the early days of the vaccination drive in India, many of us have read about how these solutions have backfired and large shipments gone waste. The biggest challenge in supply chain in India is the viability given very low-price points, especially towards the last mile of the supply chain when package sizes become very small. Traditionally and unfortunately, in many cases it was considered cheaper to waste the product than to save it, given the high cost of maintaining the cold chain. However, with the latest advances in cold chain packaging technologies, things are changing for the better. With the introduction of passive packaging solutions, cost of cold chain packaging and transportation can be brought down tremendously, especially for the last mile, thereby opening up a whole range of affordable and reliable options for pharmaceutical companies. Passive PCM based solutions allow pharma companies/logistics providers to offer end-to-end transportation of pharmaceutical packages from source to end customers without breaking the cold chain up in a highly temperature-controlled environment.

These logistics solutions have to a great extent played a very critical role in the efficiency of India’s vaccination drive. The packaging solutions they use, have ensured that pharmaceutical majors and logistics players have been able to make vaccines accessible to our hinterlands. Along with vaccine manufacturing, many pharmaceutical giants have parallelly worked very closely with packaging and logistics solutions providers to design transportation solutions that meet the specialized temperature requirements of individual brands to ensure safe and secure transportation of all vaccines.

COVID set a new trend. It not only created awareness on the importance of cold chain solutions for movement of pharmaceutical stocks, but it also opened up synergies between pharma companies, logistics players and technology providers. Such synergies were much needed. While the focus has been on movement of COVID 19 vaccines, it has parallelly created effective supply chain solutions for many other pharmaceutical products including some highly critical life-saving drugs. These new synergies generate a ray of hope - not just for pharmaceutical companies but also for patients the world over, by making treatment options accessible and in many cases affordable. In the coming years, we expect to see this trend pick up, resulting in increased collaboration and co-operation between pharmaceutical companies and logistics solution players, providing the muchneeded impetus to both sectors.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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