Understanding the Most Common Problems in Pharmaceutical Mail Order Shipments
By Melissa Germain, M.Sc., Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Jean-Pierre Emond, Ph.D., The Illuminate Group
Mail order pharmaceutical sales are the largest growing segment in the drug retail industry, with over 240 million prescriptions per year . In 2010, approximately $182 billion dollars worth of pharmaceuticals required the maintenance of a specific temperature in order to preserve their potency and effectiveness . Biopharmaceuticals and vaccines contribute to a majority of shipments of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, which are typically high in monetary value and have low product volume. With the surge in mail order shipments, increasing scrutiny by regulatory agencies, and the desire to lower costs, the need to develop an effective and reliable cold chain management system is critical. Multiple uncontrollable factors are present in mail order cold chain systems, where small errors can result in major cold chain failures, causing many industry challenges. In this article, we will present the most common problems seen over the last 20 years in the mail order pharmaceutical industry.