4 Critical Touchpoints in a Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Shipping temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products require special handling and care. Whether you are shipping to pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, or direct-to-patient, product must maintain their integrity. Temperature fluctuation of just 2 degrees can completely ruin a shipment – creating a loss of drug efficacy or even an unsafe situation for the patient. Considerations around packaging, the carrier, and the steps taken to ensure a safe arrival is critical


There are four common touchpoints you must consider for your pharmaceutical supply chain:

Preparing the product for transport to the shipper location  
This is often the first in the supply chain process, and it’s crucial that the temperature control and monitoring starts here as well. Through rigorous stability testing, the temperature requirements are defined, and the designated packaging must be used to ensure this temperature range is maintained. Thermally managed packaging (such as insulated coolers) can protect product from temperature fluctuation, damaging sunlight, humidity, and other environmental factors.  

Transportation to the shipper location  
Seven out of ten pharmaceutical products require temperature-controlled shipping. Obviously, it’s important that the transportation vehicle being utilized can meet the temperature needs of the pharmaceutical product it’s carrying. Whether it’s refrigerated vehicles or passive cooling systems, ensuring the driver has clear instructions on when a vehicle can be turned off and for how long becomes critical for the product to arrive safe and effective. A driver’s attention to detail is essential when hauling life-saving goods.

Loading and Unloading 
Delays during the loading and unloading process could cause temperatures to fluctuate based on the surrounding environment its exposed to. Ensure locations you are unloading to have enough temperature-controlled room is imperative, so product isn’t left sitting on a dock or at a shipping door for too long. The same goes for the loading process. If product is sitting out of it’s temperature range for too long due to room on a truck or shipping arrangements, the product may become ineffective or unsafe before moving through the supply chain process.

The Last Mile
The last mile is a critical touchpoint in the pharmaceutical logistics process. Throughout the product’s journey up to this point, products are typically well-monitored and controlled as they are stored in larger shipping containers that ensure the right amount of light, time, temperature, and humidity are maintained.

How this step is handled will ensure the patient receives the expected product and determines the overall level of customer satisfaction.


For more information, check out Life Sciences: Protecting Your Pharmaceuticals.