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Meeting the challenges of pharma distribution with MFS

Meeting the challenges of pharma distribution with MFS

The pharma cold chain is a vital element in the UK (and global) healthcare industry, but it’s an activity with little room for error and therefore in need of the very best in transport refrigeration.

Maintaining the quality and integrity of medical and biological products during transport is critical for pharmaceutical manufacturers and logistics providers for public health and patient safety.

As most medical and biological products require a temperature-controlled environment at all stages of manufacturing and distribution, the control of storage and transportation temperatures is vital in maintaining the quality and effectiveness of medicines.

As Michael Kane, MFS’s new Strategy Director explains, “From polio to smallpox, items such as vaccines have a long track record of saving millions of people from infectious diseases. To make this happen, the pharma cold chain has the mission of protecting the integrity of products from ‘the factory to the vein’. It’s a big ask.”

Globally, the healthcare market represents over $1.5 trillion, the projected value of the pharma cold chain market by 2021. Of that figure, over $283 billion is the value of the pharma products requiring refrigerated logistics, whilst 70% of the pharma cold chain costs relate to freight transportation.

In addition, it should be noted that EU regulatory authorities introduced new rules in 2013 that require temperature-controlled transportation for around 80% of pharma products.

Michael continues, “Not only is the scale of the pharma market massive on a global basis, but its operational demands are also very different from traditional temperature-controlled products. Some of the most important vaccines are heat sensitive and require custom transportation to remain effective, as we have seen with the latest Covid-19 vaccines.”

Three core temperature ranges are used in pharma transport:

Temperature range % of pharma loads involved
2°C – 8°C (refrigerated) 31%
20°C – 25°C (ambient) 51%
0°C – -150°C (frozen) 17%

For example, 32% of all vaccines should never be allowed to freeze.

“Another issue facing the pharma cold chain is that it extends from the manufacturer to the wholesaler, to the hospital or clinic, to the patient, to the vein, which is a complex to say the least. That’s many hands packing, lifting, storing, hauling, and delivering (and many opportunities for human and machine error),” comments Michael.

This is where Good Distribution Practice (GDP) comes in, governing the wholesale distribution of pharma products to ensure their quality and integrity is maintained throughout the supply chain.

There are some key capabilities that really do matter:

  • Real-time visibility and remote monitoring – with the ability to control temperature set-point and load temperatures to keep loads in optimal condition during transit.
  • Pre-trip reports and scheduled pre-cooling – to ensure transport containers are ready for loading.
  • Detailed log of conditions during transport – to provide accountability for customers, and guarantee product integrity and on-time delivery.

With the range of Thermo King PharmaSolutions to rely on, an experienced company such as Marshall Fleet Solutions can provide its customers with a range of equipment for temperature-controlled transportation for trailer, truck, and vehicle-powered units, anytime, anywhere.

MFS fully understands that if the quality of pharmaceutical product shipments is compromised, the risk is more than loss of cargo, it can compromise the health and well-being of patients. Working alongside TK PharmaSolutions, a comprehensive and dedicated expertise platform from Thermo King, MFS can help its customers address the precise needs of the pharmaceutical industry by delivering applications know-how and a broad spectrum of services.

As Michael Kane says, “In finding the perfect remedy and solution to your pharma distribution requirements, you need to work closely with a recognised supplier, like MFS, who can ensure that all the specified pharma equipment for distribution is tested in line with GDP protocols, covers ranges from +25°C to below -20°C, works under extreme ambient conditions and finally offers outstanding performance even with multiple door openings.”

To learn more about the full Marshall Pharma product range, call MFS on 0800 731 1695 or email MFS on