Tips and Guides for Best Warehouse Practices in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The losses due to temperature lapses in the pharmaceutical supply chain have been estimated at 320 billion globally. This figure is higher than the combined market value of Visa and Intel. Reliable supply chains are essential for both the safety and profitability of the pharmaceutical industry.

Although pharmacists are sensitive to temperature changes, medical professionals administering pharmaceuticals may not be as familiar with drug’s delicate nature. Warehouse workers might be more aware. Because of the fast pace of warehouses, lapses in process can be overlooked. Their primary concern is to get pharmaceutical products delivered on time. Good warehouse practices are essential in the pharmaceutical industry. Clearly defined procedures and responsibilities are essential to ensure that pharmaceuticals, such as biologics, arrive at their destination ready for use.

Safe Pharmaceutical Warehouse Practices Begin at Receiving

Damaged pharmaceuticals must be removed from the supply chain immediately to protect your company’s financial and employee health. Inspect any signs that the product’s integrity is compromised, such as:

Fluids Unidentified moisture:

If there is unidentified moisture, it could be a sign that the packaging has been damaged or that the drug has been exposed to fluids that could compromise the packaging.
Odors Tylenol was shipped to users on wooden pallets that had been treated using a banned chemical. This moldy odor caused stomach discomfort and forced a large recall of the drug in 2010. A shipment of pharmaceuticals could be recalled if it emits unusual odors. Loose medication spillage, either in pills, doses or blister packs, indicates that the safety of the load has been compromised.

Signs of pests:

Rodents and insects can nest in shipping materials such as wooden pallets and boxes. Pests of this nature can transmit diseases so signs of pest activity such as scratches and feces could indicate that a pharmaceutical shipment might be compromised.
Temperature Vaccines, other biologics, and antibiotics such as amoxicillin must be kept at a low temperature in order to maintain their effectiveness. To ensure the safety of pharmaceutical shipments, temperatures must be maintained at all times.
You should place any product that has any of these indicators in it in a separate area. If the incoming pharmaceuticals have not lost their integrity, they should be stored in areas that are appropriate for their type.

Cold Storage Areas: Best Warehouse Practices

Pharmaceutical storage should be clean, dry, and–for certain pharmaceuticals–cold. Cold storage facilities can be difficult to keep clean due to the fact that moisture from the atmosphere condenses when temperatures drop. Moisture can build up on horizontal surfaces, causing damage to product packaging. It also provides a growing medium for microbes and makes cleanliness more difficult.

To prevent moisture entering, good warehouse practices include keeping the door of the cold storage area closed at all time. It is also a good idea to inform workers that cold storage is not a break area. They should be aware that cold storage is prohibited from allowing food and drink in. Warehouse workers might be tempted to heat themselves in very cold storage areas. Employees who are assigned to cold chain areas will be able to stay warm by providing coats, gloves and other personal protective gear.

Good Warehouse Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry Through Technology

It is amazing how susceptible the pharmaceutical industry is to human error. Even something as simple as leaving a cooler door unlocked can cause expensive drug losses. If your warehouse stores many pharmaceuticals, it is worth reducing your dependence on human intervention. That is why we recommend pharmaceutical warehousing.

The cold storage area can have an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). This reduces the need to move between cold and warm areas. This stabilizes the temperature, reduces energy costs, and lowers the chance of product damage. Automated systems don’t need to stop for heating up or any other reason. This increases pick speeds and overall throughput. An ASRS has the biggest drawback: it needs consistent, predictable input in order to operate at peak efficiency. This can be a problem in some supply chains, as the pallets of wood that pharmaceuticals ship on at the load-unit level are not uniform in size, weight, and condition.

An alternative shipping platform can give the reliability needed for an ASRS operation to run smoothly. It can also be beneficial for warehouses handling pharmaceutical products. Plastic pallets can be used for pharmaceutical product transport. They are also reliable in their weight, size and shape. This makes them ideal for companies looking to maximize supply chain automation. Plastic pallets are resistant to moisture and can be cleaned and sanitized easily. They are a great platform for ASRS use and can be used to improve pharmaceutical warehouse practices.