Pharmaceutical logistics and traceability

28 Jul 2022
Logística farmacéutica y trazabilidad

Pharmaceutical logistics is a highly specialized business segment. The existing traceability requirements for the transport, storage and handling of medicinal products for human use are only achievable by operators with a high degree of expertise.

Likewise, the operation requires well-trained personnel and adequate equipment, because handling conditions vary radically from one product to another.

While some medicines require exhaustive control of their cold chain, others require special security measures, either because of their status as dangerous goods, their high value or for security reasons.

In such a complex context, logistics chains for pharmaceuticals have four main values

  • Pharmaceutical logistics is a segment that involves highly specialized operators who have learned how to deal with a very specific, high-value product with very specific supply conditions.
  • Operators in this sector have focused on designing very robust supply chains, with detailed inventory control and important legal requirements on the entire process that medicines undergo from production to sale to the end customer.
  • Similarly, pharmaceutical logistics has also developed extraordinary agility. The pharmacy supply service is one of its most visible elements.

In this sense, the operators are able to serve medicines to the more than 22,000 pharmaceutical establishments in the country not only on a daily basis, but twice or even three times a day. Likewise, the supply to hospitals and health centers is also carried out with great efficiency and on time.

  • The fourth feature of pharmaceutical logistics comes as a result of the previous three. The high specialization of operators, the robustness of pharma supply chains and their agility make this sector one of the most resilient.

Operators in this sector have developed strategies that allow them to adapt quickly to changing market conditions in order to find solutions to possible shortages and, on the other hand, to join a rapidly growing on-line channel.

All this means that the service offered by pharmaceutical logistics operators is capable of meeting high standards and rigorous regulations under critical conditions.

Specialization in pharmaceutical logistics

In addition to the high specialization of the sector, there are different areas of activity within pharmaceutical logistics.

In this sense, hospital supplies do not need the same attention as certain medicines that require a very specific cold chain. Nor is storing cytostatic products the same as transporting narcotic substances.

Thus, each product has its own legal and operational requirements, which oblige operators to have a thorough knowledge of the goods they are handling and the customers for whom they are intended in order to establish highly demanding service levels.

This gives rise to strong demands for specialization, with personnel who know exactly what each product needs, both from an operational and legal point of view, and who are able to take full advantage of the tools at their disposal to make one of the most well-oiled supply chains run smoothly.

Traceability in a highly regulated industry

Traceability is the secret for pharmaceutical logistics to become robust, agile and resilient, so that it can offer a specialized and efficient service.

In the case of medicines, traceability requirements are reinforced by a double condition.

  • On the one hand, medicines are substances for human consumption, so their logistics must meet high hygiene standards.
  • In addition, however, medicines are substances for human consumption in circumstances of illness, which means that any type of contamination during production, storage and transport must be avoided.

This results in traceability requirements that reach almost to the product unit and imply serious responsibilities for all links in the value chain.

Likewise, traceability also plays a basic role in setting production and shipping times, based on the fact that medicines may have to be consumed immediately, so having a forecast to establish this time and visibility to determine whether deadlines are being met is a critical factor in pharmaceutical logistics.

Traceability and pharmaceutical logistics

However, traceability is not a simple matter in pharmaceutical logistics. The multiplicity of conditions existing for different products, with rigorous cold storage requirements in some cases, or protection against sunlight in others, for example, or the high number of references involved, make it difficult to track the merchandise throughout the chain.

Similarly, in pharmaceutical logistics, the average order is small in size and, moreover, is usually made up of products that are very different from one another. This is another factor that hinders traceability.

All these requirements make it essential to have a traceability platform with all the guarantees, capable of tracking cargo in small units, with real-time information and the capacity to cover the entire end-to-end chain.

FIEDEAS Track and Trace is an ideal tool for pharmaceutical logistics for its ability to provide relevant and visual information in real time, for its ability to track goods along the entire chain from the unit and for its ability to provide 360º visibility of the entire chain

Ensuring drug traceability is one of the key factors for quality pharmaceutical logistics. FIELDEAS Track and Trace facilitates the work of operators and shippers in this highly specialized sector with a traceability tool that is specially adapted to the needs of pharmaceutical logistics.

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Lola Hurtado

Marketing Manager at FIELDEAS

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