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Maintaining Cold Chain Integrity for Pharmaceutical Products



The social and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt on a global scale. As millions of people were forced into lockdown, hundreds of thousands of businesses stalled their operations, while healthcare systems were pushed to breaking point. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted practically every aspect of our lives and it has also greatly influenced the cold chain logistics industry. Pharmaceutical transport hasn’t stopped, but rather increased as patients suffering from COVID-19 and other illnesses required tests and medications delivered at their clinic or home with the right temperaturecontrolled solutions. Of course, the scale, criticality, and urgency underpinning the global COVID-19 vaccine roll-out has presented a unique challenge itself. The pandemic has brought many new challenges together with demanding requirements to the cold chain logistics industry, such as:

  • Ultra-low temperatures required for storage and transport of the mRNA vaccines
  • Increased importance of last mile delivery – direct to patient, direct to hospital, and direct to vaccination centres. Getting medication safely to patients by shipping directly to vaccination centres, pharmacies, and patient’s homes, while ensuring that products are delivered at the right time and temperature
  • Increased demand for dry ice, while vaccine manufacturers raced to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines worldwide
  • Increased demand on road transportation in the EU. Due to the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines have required a specific range of temperatures for storage and transport – together with the demand for dry ice applications, limited capacity in air cargo, and end-to-end visibility requirements across the EU – almost 90% of COVID-19 vaccines are delivered by road freight
  • Importance of real-time monitoring to reduce the risk of damage, loss of quality, and wastage of the high value medical products

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Muge Suner is Senior Pharma Business, Key-Strategic Accounts Manager for Thermo King in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Based in Brussels, Belgium, she has been leading the Thermo King PharmaSolutions operations since 2019. Following her studies at the Ankara University in Turkey she began and continued her career in major forwarding and supply chain companies such as Cosco, DB Schenker, and DHL, where she was responsible for account management for temperature controlled solutions in life sciences, healthcare, and pharma.
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