Record year forecasted for pharmaceutical air shipments

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Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s HQ achieves GDP compliance as it sets up for record year in pharma and life sciences cargo. 

Virgin Atlantic Cargo has been granted a Wholesale Distribution Authorization (WDA) for its global headquarters operations and its new Pharma Zone at Heathrow Airport, confirming the airline’s compliance with Good Distribution Practice (GDP).

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Pharma rates

This latest enhancement of Virgin Atlantic’s products and services for medicines and life science shipments is expected to lead to further growth in volumes, which rose by over 20% in 2017.

Alongside new facilities and equipment, Virgin Atlantic’s network connecting major international pharma markets is the other key factor boosting its share of pharma volumes. Through its JV with Delta Cargo, Virgin now offers almost a quarter of all transatlantic cargo capacity, the busiest global lane for medicine shipments. Virgin serves a total of 11 U.S. destinations, offering direct services to the UK and fast connections into Europe. Demand is also up for drug services to India and China.

Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said: “The standards and requirements for everyone involved in the transportation of pharmaceuticals and life science products set out clear guidelines of what is expected of airlines serving customers in this growing market. We have been listening to our customers and responding to what they want. Wholesale Distribution Authorisation (WDA) was the regulatory compliance they asked us to achieve and now we meet their requirements at both our global headquarters and Pharma Zone. We can measure our customers’ approval by the increasing pharma bookings they are giving us.

“We are confident 2018 will be a record year for our pharma and life science business as customers commit to airlines like Virgin which are delivering tangible benefits.”

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GDP warehouse

Virgin’s Pharma Zone is a secure and segregated facility with GDP-trained staff dedicated to the handling and storage of pharma shipments. It incorporates walk-in pods for loose drug shipments and six chambers for pallet storage, which can accommodate 24 PMCs in 2-8C or 15-25C temperature ranges, as well as multiple charging points for active containers.

In January, the airline also increased the range of active containers it offers for temperature-controlled cargoes by becoming the first UK airline to approve the use of CSafe’s new RAP unit.

WDA was established by the UK Government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is recognised as a trusted and independent source of expertise throughout Europe, working closely with the European regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA). The MHRA also collaborates with other international regulators, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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