Cold chain capacity concerns around the world

Expansions in the capability of supply chain participants to manage temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals


The beginning of the year has brought a slew of announcements on various companies involved in manufacturing or transporting temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals. But the biggest news might be the preparations by the British government for a “hard” (no-deal) Brexit. In mid-January, responding to queries from the opposition party, Stephen Hammond, Minister of State for the Dept. of Health and Social Care, wrote that the government had initiated a tender process in October for added warehouse space to stockpile medicines. Contracts have been signed, “or will be signed imminently,” for 53,000 pallets of ambient storage, 5,000 pallets of refrigerated storage, and 850 pallets of controlled (substance) storage. The overall cost is in the “tens of millions of pounds,” with the refrigerated component estimated at £1 million.

(Bigger worries, arguably, are rising within the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is preparing a range of documents on how clinical trials are to be conducted, and drugs approved or monitored—all things that had been functions of the European Medicines Agency, but will fall into Britain’s MHRA with Brexit.)

Secondary packaging at Reed-Lane

Secondary packaging at Reed-Lane

Meanwhile, in Wayne, NJ, contract packager Reed-Lane has built out and validated 2-8°C storage space for up to 100 pallets. Reed-Lane, a longtime packager of oral solids, “is seeing where the market is going—growth in biologics,” says Joe Luke, VP of sales and marketing. Already, pharma clients are making use of the new capacity for packaging vials and other containers.

And Pelican Biothermal, a producer of tertiary packaging for the pharma cold chain, has announced the opening of a network station and service center in Los Angeles, where (among other things) reusable Crēdo on Demand shipping container will be refurbished and conditioned for use. The company is in the process of building out a 100-location network for its package-rental program. The facility is near not only the Los Angeles airport, but also the Long Beach seaport.

Finally, Cryoport, which specializes in low-temperature or cryogenic transport of cellular materials for life sciences, has held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its previously announced Amsterdam, Netherlands global logistics center. (The company also operates in animal-health market and for refrigerated, rather than cryogenic, transport.) Amsterdam is one of four locations globally that Cryoport owns or partners with. The Amsterdam facility is not only near Schipol International Airport—a major life sciences shipping hub—but also the new home of the European Medicines Agency, which left London after the Brexit vote.