Expanding Capabilities in the Pharmaceutical Cold Chain - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Expanding Capabilities in the Pharmaceutical Cold Chain
As biopharmaceutical development and commercialization increases, companies are expanding their cold-chain capabilities.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 2, pp. 42-45

Other companies expand

In December 2011, the logistics company UPS agreed to purchase Italy-based Pieffe Group, a pharmaceutical logistics company. The acquisition adds two major healthcare distribution facilities, one in Milan and the other in Rome, to UPS's existing global network. The facilities provide a combined space of nearly 753,500 ft2 , including 12 cold-storage areas, with options for further expansion. These facilities add to UPS's global healthcare distribution footprint of more than 4 million ft2. UPS's existing healthcare network of 30 facilities worldwide offers services, such as temperature-sensitive handling capabilities, regulatory compliance, monitoring and security, kitting and labeling, as well as order management and accounts receivables.

In September 2011, the logistics company DHL launched DHL SmartSensor GMS, a device for temperature monitoring, as an advanced version of the company's SmartSensor RFID. The DHL SmartSensor GSM is a small, high-technology device that is packed inside the DHL shipment and which sends real-time data to the solution's web portal. The device uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) technologies that permit data to be controlled without opening the shipment. The device acts as a data-gathering sensor and sends email or text-message notifications if problems arise during transport, such as a change in temperature or the premature opening up of parcel as the light sensor is activated. The device can be used for land and ocean-freight transports. For air transport, the device's GSM antenna is automatically switched off before take-off. The sensor continues to retrieve data but does not send the information in flight as to not to interfere with the aircraft's electronics, according to a Sept. 22, 2011, DHL press release.

In November 2011, DHL Global Forwarding, the air and freight specialist within the Deutsche Post DHL Group, expanded its services for temperature-controlled shipments. The company entered into a lease with CSafe, a heat-and-cool container provider for the temperature-sensitive air-freight market. The CSafe heat-and-cool containers maintain temperature within a range of 4 C to 25 C by means of rechargeable batteries for temperatures ranging from ambient to more extreme temperatures of from –30 C to 49 C.

In September 2011, DHL Global Forwarding and Lufthansa Cargo changed their ownership of their 50–50 joint venture, LifeConEx, a life-sciences cold-chain logistics provider, to make it a 100% owned subsidiary of DHL. In April 2011, DHL Global Forwarding opened a new competence center in Vienna to expand services to the life-sciences sector. The facility includes 500 m2 of refrigerated warehouse space for handling temperature-sensitive products to allow them to be prepped for air shipment. The center, located at the Vienna airport, is expected to transship approximately 20,000 pallets annually in temperature ranges of 2–8 C and 15–25 C. In addition to the warehousing service, the company offers loading and unloading of refrigerated containers, packing of products, coordination of freight space, and organization of the necessary transport equipment. DHL Freight and LTL ColdChain Europe, a pan-European road-freight pallet network for the life-sciences and healthcare industries, are connected to the Vienna competence center.

In March 2011, Bristol-Myers Squibb selected Exel, part of DHL, to be its third-party logistics provider handling US distribution. As part of the contract, Exel purchased the existing Bristol-Myers Squibb distribution centers in Mount Vernon, Indiana. Exel is providing logistics operations and finished-goods distribution services, including storage and distribution of cold-chain and non-cold-chain products, clinical-trial materials, samples, and exports. Exel also is managing second distribution in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Movianto Nederland, a logistics and transportation company specializing in pharmaceuticals and healthcare, is building a new warehouse in Oss, the Netherland to offer a large facility for the storage of deep frozen pharmaceutical products. The new warehouse, which will be operational by April 2012, will provide a range of new facilities, such as a deep frozen storage area (< –20 C) with a capacity for 350 pallets. The 13,000-m2 good-distribution practice (GDP)-compliant warehouse encompasses 21,000 temperature-controlled pallet places, including 17,700 in the area of ambient (15–25 C) 2200 chilled pallet locations (2–8 C), and 1100 pallets for narcotics. The facility includes a mezzanine with 1300 m2 for repackaging and relabeling services according to GMP guidelines. The expanded storage capacity will serve as a central European warehouse with a dedicated cross-docking area and bonded warehouse facility. Movianto's transport solution manages freight and distributes the products to local warehouses throughout Europe.

In July 2011, Sherpa Clinical Packaging, a privately held provider of clinical-trial material-management services, opened a new cGMP production facility in San Diego, California, colocated adjacent to the CDMO Althea Technologies campus in Sorrento Valley. Sherpa and Althea entered into a comarketing agreement in March 2011.

Sherpa's new facility includes five controlled access and monitored packaging suites, and walk-in 2–8 C and –20 C storage areas. Redundant refrigeration systems, alarms, and onsite emergency backup generator power were specified to minimize potential risks associated with cold storage. "We purpose-built the facility to accommodate the needs of pharmaceutical and biotech clients that require controlled environments for their clinical study materials," said Mark Paiz, president of Sherpa Clinical Packaging," in a July 2011, press release. "The site offers companies conducting clinical studies an option to label, package, store, and distribute on the West Coast, which is particularly important for many biotechnology companies whose products require cold storage."

Marken, a provider of clinical-trial management services, reported in December 2011 that it has expanded its depot network with a new facility in Buenos Aires. The Argentina depot joins Marken's already operational depots in Mexico and Singapore and includes a full range of temperature control, including controlled ambient, cold storage (2–8 C) and frozen (–20 C) as well as a secured drug store. Each of Marken's depots offer specimen kit distribution, collection, storage, and management as well as reverse logistics for dosage kits, drugs, and equipment, including reconciliation and certified destruction. Additional depot facilities are being developed in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, according to the company. This expanded network builds on Marken's current Latin America business, which serves over 1200 clinical research investigator sites in the region.

In May 2011, BioStorage Technologies, a provider a sample-management solutions, opened a new biorepository facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. The $4.6-million, 60,000-ft2 facility is dedicated to the preparation, storage, and cold-chain transport of human biological samples for academic centers, CROs, donor programs, and biotechnology companies. The facility expansion provides the company the ability to offer sample-preparation services, including automated liquid handling technology for high-throughput DNA and RNA extraction and verification. The new biorepository facility offers a wide range of storage options, including automated carousel controlled-room temperature storage at 15 C to 27 C, bulk sample storage at 15 C to 27 C, walk-in cold sample storage at –20 C to 5 C, ultra-low temperature storage at –70 C to –80 C , and –190 C vapor-phase liquid nitrogen.

Patricia Van Arnum is a senior editor at Pharmaceutical Technology, 485 Route One South, Bldg F, First Floor, Iselin, NJ 08830 tel. 732.346.3072,
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