Cool Chain

CCA 2018: More pharma collaboration and infrastructure investment needed

Cool chain stakeholders still need to do more to work together, pharma handling infrastructure is not up to scratch globally and standards of handling and shipping still vary considerable across the globe, the Cool Chain Association’s (CCA) 6th Pharma & Biosciences Conference heard today in Brussels.

Key decision-makers from IATA and two of the globe’s most prolific pharma-carrying airlines joined CCA chairman, Stavros Evangelakakis for the first panel debate at the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel.

Pharma standards and certificates formed much of the debate about the pharmaceutical vertical and IATA’s CEIV Pharma and GDP were a large part of the discussions.

Emirates SkyCargo pharmaceuticals global sales, Julian Sutch says it not just about having standards and a certificate though. “I do not think it is just about which plaque you have. It is about living and breathing the guidelines.

“The most important thing is fit-for-purpose facilities. Having the training and processes and SOPs is really important, however, if you do not have the right infrastructure you will still struggle.”

Emirates SkyCargo has GDP certified facilities and standards and does have the CEIV Pharma certification, but Sutch says it has seen a great increased in pharma shipments in some markets over the last few years including to the likes of India and Cairo.

IATA launched its CEIV Pharma scheme just over four years ago, and it has spread across the supply chain with air cargo communities have set-up in Brussels, Miami, Singapore and others based around the initiative.

IATA’s assistant director for cargo, ground operations and CEIV consulting, Ronald Schaefer feels the air freight industry is still in the early stages of pharma development and there is much work to be done.

“We knew right from the start that it would not be easy and be solved in two to three years. I still think I see us in the initial stages and we have a long way to go in the industry,” he says.

Schaefer says the air cargo industry needs to find a way to get more parts of the supply chain involved including shippers, freight forwarders, cargo handlers, airlines and airports.

“It is a little about preaching to the converted though, as we need to find a way to get more stakeholders onboard and involved. There are a lot of companies that do not want to be part of CEIV or certain standards for different reasons. We as any industry need to find a way to address this,” he added.

Some regions are though still lacking the required infrastructure to meet pharma shipping standards and many warehouses do not even have temperature-controlled areas.

Delta Cargo program manager for pharma product development, Chas Petty says there are parts of the world in his view that are well “behind”. “If you take the USA, there is still nothing like the GDP programme that you have in Europe,” he adds.

For Schaefer while there is more and more collaboration and cooperation across the air freight pharma vertical, there still needs to be more done across the supply chain and it needs to find a way of getting more stakeholders involved.

“We need to as an industry make a big effort and work with our partners. We as an industry have a responsibility to educate our partners and the supply chain,” he says. “The know-how is not there in every part of the world.”

Sutch believes the air cargo community approach to pharma and CEIV like at Brussels Airport, Singapore Changi Airport and Miami International Airport was a positive step and should be embraced further and airports need to continue be a big part of the debate moving forward in the transportation of pharma cargo.

The CCA’s 6th Pharma & Biosciences Conference takes places until tomorrow.