As we noted in our recent discussion Cold Chain Logistics, commercial trucking plays an essential role in keeping the nation’s hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies stocked with a large variety of vital medicines. Many modern pharmaceuticals are expensive, time-sensitive, and temperature-sensitive. Keeping these life-saving drugs protected, especially in winter and summer temperature extremes, requires careful planning and continual monitoring.
Fighting New Battles; Bringing New Hope
Aside from the research and technology involved in developing new medicines, one of the greatest challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry is efficient and temperature-controlled distribution.
One of the hallmark examples of the role new capabilities in refrigerated trucking played in creating new possibilities for pharmaceuticals was in WWII. The development of penicillin saved countless lives of wounded soldiers during this conflict. The ultimate impact of penicillin was only possible because of progress that had started with a focus on improving the ability of trucks to support a robust cold chain.
The lessons learned during this massive effort also aided the rapid development of and distribution of the Polio vaccine in the early 50s to stem a nationwide Polio epidemic.
Of course, national media provided a useful insight into the role refrigerated commercial trucks played (and continue to play) in the unprecedented rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Specialized Equipment, Procedures, and Regulations
Refrigerated trucks (often called Reefers) are the predominate vehicles used for the transportation of pharmaceuticals. Vastly advanced from the earliest refrigerated trucks, the trucks used today have sophisticated monitoring and backup systems. These are all focused on keeping temperatures within a precise range as dictated by the needs of the specific cargo. In some cases, as with the initial Covid biologicals, team drivers ensured the fastest possible delivery from production to ultimate users.
In addition to specialized equipment, the entire cold chain for pharmaceuticals is under the control of theFood and Drug Administration (FDA) ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The two government agencies have compiled a constantly changing list of requirements and regulations for any companies involved in the transportation of these products.
It is essential to stress that the guidelines and procedures put in place require rigorous adherence from the production facility to the final point of distribution. For example, monitoring of temperatures must show if the range was exceeded at any point. This concept also applies to other aspects of the cold logistics chain for food and other items.
However, the life-and-death role of pharmaceuticals requires shippers to significantly up their game. A multi-million dollar shipment will be rejected and considered spoiled if it arrives outside a given time window or monitoring shows even one degree of variation outside the approved range for the specific item shipped.
Thus, shippers must ensure they are in strict compliance with each detail of the regulations for:
- Personnel training: Specialized training must be provided and documented.
- Labelling: All shipments containing pharmaceuticals must bear specific and visible labels and markings.
- Operations: Special cleaning procedures for the vehicles, loading areas, and all refrigeration and monitoring/control are required to avoid contamination.
- Vehicles: In addition to the enhanced refrigeration, monitoring and control features, enhanced security measures must be in place and followed.
- Record: A primary area of focus in the shipment of pharmaceuticals is that of detailed and accurate keeping of all required records, including always providing immediate and full access.
As noted here, labeling is an especially important aspect of the shipment process. This is not only for the convenience of the producer but also for first responders and others in the event of an accident, theft, or other issue. A few of the special requirements for such shipments are any allergic reactions associated with the medicine, active and inactive ingredients, a drug facts table, and the purpose of use.
Important Today, Vital Tomorrow
As evermore exotic medicines and biologicals come to market requiring strict temperature management, the role of Cold Chain Pharmaceutical Management continues to grow. Effective management of this important service is vital to keeping Americans healthy in the coming years.
Road Scholar Can Help
Since 1988, Road Scholar Transport has been solving risk-adverse, investment grade customers’ transportation needs throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. To us, each of our customers’ freight is as fragile as a carton of eggs, easily damaged if not receiving the care and custody it deserves during transport, which is why we maintain a damage claim record of 0.0004%, one of the lowest in the industry.
Road Scholar Transport does business with a multitude of pharmaceutical companies. As a recognized asset-based carrier on the east coast, we offer less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload (TL), dry van, frozen and reefer, heated, teams, expedited, and same-day service options. These various features allow us to provide services to all facets of the pharmaceutical industry, from raw materials to finished goods inventory.
Road Scholar Transport strongly focuses on the temperature-controlled business and the security of your manufactured goods to deliver a safe product to your end user, the way it left. Here are a few ways how:
Weekend Delivery Service
Has your cargo ever sat due to a long holiday weekend? Have you ever called a carrier to pick up an urgent load on a Friday only to have it docked until Monday? It is statistically proven that cargo at rest is cargo at risk with the greatest number of cargo thefts occurring on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Unlike many of our regional competitors who will not pick up protect from freezing shipments on a Friday because they do not want to be responsible for protecting it throughout the weekend, we have a protect from freezing policy that allows us to pick up and deliver five days a week. We at Road Scholar think that a competent supplier should be able to provide 100% protect coverage and not the conventional 80% (Mon-Thur.). Road Scholar Transport offers weekend delivery service for our customers, getting their product delivered quickly and reducing cargo theft.
Road Scholar offers 24-hour expedited and same day service throughout our core service areas for those time-critical situations.
We cut back on the handling of your products by offering dock-to-dock service with NO transfers. You can be assured that everything picking up on our equipment, delivers on our equipment.
We hire only the most professional and experienced drivers who are subject to background checks and safety tests well beyond the industry standard. Each of our drivers are uniformed and constantly trained on the latest cargo transport threats. We also undergo ten year criminal history background check of drivers and fingerprinting for Federal Security Threat Assessment.
While wooden pallets serve as a means of cross-contamination, being very porous, and therefore, absorbing and maintaining fluids that can breed bacteria as well as contain splinters and nails from the wood that can puncture products, wooden floor trailers similarly pose a concern. We take extra precaution to ensure that your cargo is being transported in a clean environment, providing aluminum floor trailers and conducting regular sweeps, preventing cross-contamination and creating a more sanitary environment.
Knowledgeable Dispatch Team
Freight can easily be damaged by unplanned routes that send trucks into areas not suitable for its size equipment. Our around the clock dispatch and operations team carefully plans all routes, including secure route geofencing around Road Scholar facilities and customer facilities (upon request).
Cargo theft costs the trucking and shipping industry nearly $30 billion a year. Road Scholar implements only the toughest security features to our fleet, protecting your products from being damaged and tampered with. Road Scholar Transport’s Self-Created “Pentagon Distribution Model” provides 100% accountable secure transport by focusing on technology, visibility, protocols, equipment, and audit trailers. Security features include:
- Real-time satellite tracking right down to the breadcrumbs
- Drivers, trailers, and power units are all equipped with redundant GPS tracking.
- Electronic door monitoring.
- Navalock (Bolt cutter, sledgehammer, and chisel proof. U.S. Customs and test labs have certified the Navalock against every possible in-transit threat of surreptitious removal or entry)
- Secure route optimization to avoid high risk areas.
- Proof-of-Delivery with Route Verification.
These are just some of the reasons that we NEVER suffered a full truckload loss. President and CEO, Jim Barrett, has been a repeat guest on “Tough Talk” by Joe Peters, anti-terrorism expert. Road Scholar Transport is also a member of the Cargo Security Alliance.
- Platinum Pharmaceutical CSR assigned to your account *Average Tractor Age < 3 years
- Pre-appointed shipments
- SmartWay Transport Partner
- Dedicated vehicles/equipment upon request
- All vehicles are air-ride equipped
- In cab scanners to make documentation immediately available
- Driver behavior events are recorded, including hard breaking incidents, idling, excessive speed, rapid acceleration/deceleration
- Full compliance of ELD mandate
- Drive Cams
- Wingman Collision Avoidance Systems
- Anti-Rollover Protection
- Roof Decals
- We’ve never been cited for a piece of faulty equipment involved in an accident
Road Scholar Transport’s Detailed Standard Operating and High Security Protocols are detailed within our Quality Program documentation.
- State-of-the-art reefers and power units that won’t break down, implemented with StarTrak telematic solutions to provide GPS tracking and real-time monitoring of reefer status including operating state, temperatures, alarms, battery condition, door events, and two-way control functionality to turn the reefer on/off and change reefer temperature set-point.
- We DO NOT blanket wrap. Our reefers are imbedded with technology that tracks the temperature within and alerts our team in the event that the temperature goes out of range so that we can rectify the situation prior to the product losing its integrity.
- Audit trail of the trailer temperature throughout the entire transportation process available upon request, giving you and your customer piece of mind that your products maintained the proper quality and security from point A to point B.
- Before a single tender is accepted our reefer fleet has already been validated with 24 hour thermal mapping certified by 3rd party Sensitech.
- Our customer service team verifies customer requirements. Maintenance is notified to begin preparing equipment.
- Drivers must do a 2nd test of the reefer, verify the temperature via in cab technology on pickup, and report temperature back to operations after first 30 minutes.
- Telematics feeds back continuous temperature readings. Alerts are generated and are handled immediately, even a remote temp reset.
Learn more by visiting our pharmaceutical transport page and get a shipping quote today.