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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Something in the Air

The transport of infectious pathogens is considered by the United Nations (UN) and almost all world governments to be a relatively dangerous activity. It is felt that without the existence of strict governing regulations, there would be laxity and negligence on the part of both shippers and transporters, resulting in the risk of individual and community infection.

Therefore, international and national dangerous goods regulations include sections on classifying and shipping infectious pathogens worldwide. Over the years these rules have been shaped, modified and revised. There is no reason to believe that the future will hold anything different. Thus this article, which covers only air transport, may be considered current so long as there are no new significant rule changes. This reiterates that it is wise for all parties involved in the transport of infectious pathogens to keep up with regulatory developments.

Regulations carry the force of law and, just as with any other law, violators face certain penalties. Monetary fines are most common, although intentionally bypassing the regulations can result in criminal prosecution. It falls upon national governments to enforce these laws through designated agencies such as the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


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Michael Gotz is the principal of MLG Consulting, specialising in life sciences/ dangerous goods transport assistance. He was previously the Director of Dangerous Goods for Quick International Courier, responsible for regulatory compliance and employee, service partner and customer training. Starting at Flying Tigers Airline, he has been working in the dangerous goods/life sciences transport industry for 23 years. He holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, US.
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