Cold chain is hot these days, especially in pharma. Just ask Pelican Biothermal’s vice president of sales Kevin Lawler about a survey the company did this summer.
The first trend the survey cites is increasing quality demands on the pharma cold chain. But raising the bar isn’t just happening. In fact, temperature deviations within shipping packages still occur on a regular basis. In fact, 16% of people responding said it happens daily, weekly or a couple of times a month. Another 28% said it happens a few times a year. In other words, the temperature of 44% of shipments is inconsistent. Not exactly a sign of high quality.
And, these aren’t ignorable events. More than 40% said temperature variances are more than 4 degrees, a significant variance for cold chain pharma products. Worse yet, another 21% said they have no idea how much temperatures vary during shipment. Yikes.
As Lawler explains, temperature isn’t the only issue with pharma shipments. Humidity, vibration and light conditions matter, too. And, no more than 35% of respondents monitor even one of those three conditions.
If this doesn’t sound like a bad situation, it should. Lawler points out that 30 of the 50 top global biopharma products require precise cold chain handling. Meanwhile, sales of these products are growing at twice the rate of overall pharma, currently accounting for 27% of all pharma sales.
Fortunately, Pelican has been working in this arena for some time. Called Original Golden Hour Technology, it provides passive single use and reusable thermal protection for up to 168 hours or seven days per shipment, says Lawler. The patented thermal insulating material is for small packages as well as pallet sized loads for bulk shipping.
Pelican sells and rents various-sized containers lined with the PCM, or phase change material. For bulk shipping of half and full pallet loads, the company offers its Crēdo Cargo platform, which includes temperature tracking devices for the duration of the shipment.
And while Pelican BioThermal is focused on shipments of biopharma today, it didn’t start out that way. The PCM materials, explains Lawler, were developed to control the temperature of blood shipments in small quantities to the battlefields of Afghanistan.
Prior to development of the PCM packages, it was difficult if not impossible to get blood to injured troops in the mountains in time to save their lives. In 2003, Pelican BioThermal received the U.S. Army’s Greatest Invention Award for the development. It was the only life sustaining award the Army gave that year.
Pete Pace is chairman of Pelican Products. He’s also the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
To hear what the general has to say about this, watch this video:
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