Globally, the losses due to temperature lapses in pharmaceutical supply chains are estimated at $320 Billion. This figure is more than the combined market value of Visa, Intel, and Walmart. Reliable supply chains are crucial for both the profitability and safety of the pharmaceutical industry.
Although pharmacists are sensitive to temperature changes, medical professionals administering pharmaceuticals may not be as familiar with the drug’s delicate nature. Warehouse workers might be more aware. Because of the fast pace of pharmaceutical warehousing, lapses in the process can be overlooked. Their primary concern is to get pharmaceutical products delivered on time. Good warehouse practices are essential in the pharmaceutical industry. Clearly defined procedures and responsibilities are essential to ensure that pharmaceuticals, such as biologics, arrive at their destination ready for use.
Secure Pharmaceutical Warehouse Practices Begin at Receiving
Damaged pharmaceuticals must be removed from the supply chain immediately to protect your company’s financial and employee health. Inspect any signs that the product’s integrity is compromised, such as:
- Fluids: Unidentified moisture may indicate that the packaging is damaged or the drug has been exposed to liquid that could compromise the packaging.
- Odors: Even though there is no direct contact, chemicals or cleaners can interact and cause interactions with pharmaceuticals. Tylenol was shipped to users on wooden pallets. The wood pallets had been treated with a banned substance, which gave rise to a moldy smell and caused stomach discomfort. In 2010, the drug was subject to a huge recall. Unusual odors could indicate that the shipment of pharmaceuticals has been stopped.
- Spillage: Loose medication, whether in pills, doses, or blister packs, indicates that the safety of the pharmaceuticals packaging has been compromised.
- Signs of pests: Rodents and insects can nest in shipping materials such as wooden pallets and boxes. Pests of this nature can transmit diseases so signs of pest activity such as scratches and feces could indicate that a pharmaceutical shipment might be compromised.
- Temperature: Vaccines and biologics as well as Antibiotics such as amoxicillin To preserve their effectiveness, they must be kept at room temperature. To ensure the safety of pharmaceutical shipments, temperatures must be maintained throughout transportation.
- If you find any of these indicators in an arriving product load, they should be stored in a separate area to allow for further inspection. If the incoming pharmaceuticals have not lost their integrity, they should be stored in areas that are appropriate for the type and grade of pharmaceutical.
Cold Storage Areas: Best Warehouse Practices
Pharmaceutical storage should be clean, dry, and–for certain pharmaceuticals–cold. Cold storage facilities can be difficult to keep clean due to the fact that moisture from the atmosphere condenses when temperatures drop. Moisture can build up on horizontal surfaces, causing damage to product packaging. It also provides a growing medium for microbes and makes cleanliness more difficult.
Provide coats, gloves, and other protective equipment to employees who are assigned to cold chain areas.
To prevent moisture from entering, good warehouse practices include keeping the cold storage door closed at all times. It is also a good idea to inform workers that cold storage is not a break area. They should be aware that they are not allowed to bring food or drinks into the cold storage. Warehouse workers might be tempted to heat themselves in very cold storage areas. Employees who are assigned to cold chain areas will be able to stay warm by providing coats, gloves, and other personal protective gear.
Good Warehouse Practices in Pharmaceutical Industry Through Technology
It is amazing how susceptible the pharmaceutical industry is to human error. Even something as simple as leaving a cooler door unlocked can cause expensive drug losses. If your warehouse stores many pharmaceuticals, it is worth reducing your dependence on human intervention.
An alternative shipping platform may be able to provide the reliability necessary for an ASRS system to function smoothly. This can also prove to be beneficial for warehouses that handle pharmaceutical products.
The cold storage area can have an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). This reduces the need to move between cold and warm areas. This stabilizes the temperature, reduces energy costs, and lowers the chance of product damage. Automated systems don’t need to stop for heating up or any other reason. These increases pick speeds and overall throughput. An ASRS has the biggest drawback: it needs consistent, predictable input in order to operate at peak efficiency. This can be a problem in some supply chains, as the pallets of wood that pharmaceuticals ship on at the load-unit level aren’t uniform in size, weight, and condition.
Switching to an alternative shipping platform can provide the reliability required for an ASRS to operate smoothly, and can be beneficial overall for a warehouse handling pharmaceutical products. Plastic pallets can be used for transporting pharmaceutical products and are more reliable than wood pallets in terms of weight, size, and shape. Plastic pallets are resistant to moisture and can be cleaned and sanitized easily. They are a great platform for ASRS use and can be used to improve pharmaceutical warehouse practices.