Biopharma Drives Cold Chain in Canada

Cold Chain IQ

The need for cold chain facilities is only likely to increase with developments in biopharmaceuticals, meaning vigilance in this field is essential.

Canada is playing an increasingly large role in the biopharma industry, with some of the major players making significant investments in recent years.

GlaxoSmithKline has operations in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia and invested $178 million (£111 million) in research and development (R&D) in the country in 2007 alone. Sanofi Pasteur also invested $100 millionin a facility in Ontario the following year.

All of the top 10 biopharmaceutical companies in the world have a presence in Canada, a number of which have a R&D and manufacturing focus.

According to Nick Basta, editor in chief of Pharmaceutical Commerce and a co-author of the Cold Chain Biopharma Logistics Sourcebook 2010: "When you look at how national and international regulations are evolving, you see that even room-temperature products will soon require additional monitoring steps that add complexity to the transportation process."

Cold chain technology

Cold Chain technology is considered by many to hold the key to monitoring temperatures throughout the cold chain. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive into cold chains found that many physicians would be interested in a device which would allow the end user to monitor the temperature of the product.

Among those companies working within the field of temperature monitoring is PakSense. The company produces temperature monitoring labels, which are flat and about the size of a sugar packet, and can be used to monitor the temperature of an item for around 90 days.

The sensors do not need ongoing calibration to provide an accurate reading and can also provide a reading from the surface of the product, rather than just the ambient temperature.

Canadian corporation Alternatives Technologie Pharma recently signed a deal with PakSense for worldwide distribution rights.

Intelleflex believes that RFID is one of the most promising forms of technology for cold chain management. The company recently released the HMR-9090 handheld reader and the FMR-6000 Fixed Reader, both of which are designed to work with the companies RFID tags and can provide wireless, on-demand monitoring at distances of up to 100 metres.

Michael Laird, RFID director at ABI research, commented: "An increasing number of key industry sectors are seeking automated data capture solutions that extend beyond reading a licence plate ID on an asset, object or item."

Aviation within the cold chain

Cold chains present a potentially large source of revenue for airlines, which are continuing to struggle with the effects of the economic downturn. Air travel is also favoured by pharmaceutical companies as both a swift and secure method of distribution.

Bob Gahan, vice-president of global sales, health care vertical for DB Schenker Transportation and Logistics, told Pharmaceutical Commerce: "Bio and pharma companies choose air transport as relatively low-cost insurance against potential product loss that may result from mishandling, delay or extended exposure."

As such, a number of airlines are looking to expand their cold chain product offerings, including Air Canada.

The carrier recently signed a deal with CSafe for the latter's AcuTemp RKN active temperature controlled cargo containers. The technology allows for temperature management within an ambient range of -30 degrees C and 49 degrees C.

However, increasing regulations relating to air cargo screening in Canada will mean relationships between those within the supply chain will have to be tightened.

Transport Canada is looking at moving to 100 percent screening for air cargo products on passenger flights following terrorist threats.

Similar regulations have said to have been successfully navigated in the United States, thanks in part to the Certified Cargo Screening Program, which allowed manufacturers and those in the supply chain to carry out the checks themselves, Pharmaceutical Commerce reported.