Pharmaceutical warehousing is the practice of storing a mass-produced commodity until there is a demand for it. Warehouses, on the other hand, are specialized storage facilities where these things are kept until they are required by customers. Food preservation is becoming increasingly straightforward as a result of recent technological breakthroughs.
Most warehouses collaborate with transportation firms to provide a seamless and secure shipment and storage operation.
The following five questions are a good place to start when looking for a 3PL to manage important pharmaceutical supply chain duties including storage.
Is the 3PL capable of properly segregating products?
There are special segregation criteria for several medicinal goods. For example, a product’s proper storage conditions may mandate that it be kept away from meals, other pharmaceuticals, and even odor-producing goods (e.g., tires or coffee). Your 3PL should be able to demonstrate that they can satisfy these criteria. Importantly, merely segregating items isn’t enough; your 3PL must also commit to completing the additional actions outlined above to eliminate cross contact.
Is the 3PL warehouse able to accommodate your product’s environment requirements?
The proper storage conditions for a pharmaceutical product may need that it be kept within a certain temperature and/or humidity range at all times. You must ensure that your selected 3PL can meet these standards – and that it has protections in place in the event that temperature or humidity levels go outside of acceptable ranges.
Are you able to perform an audit on your third-party logistics provider?
Almost every 3PL that keeps pharmaceutical items will welcome unannounced or publicized audits by the products’ owners. Storage conditions, product placement, possible risks, facility cleanliness, recordkeeping and training methods, and other things may be examined during such audits.
The FDA may also conduct audits of pharmaceutical warehouses on a regular basis. The finest 3PLs are constantly ‘audit-ready,’ meaning they’re ready for an unexpected visit from the FDA or any other auditing agency.
Is your 3PL flex space up to the task?
Many businesses have begun to reconsider their inventory management techniques in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the resulting supply chain disruptions. For some, having additional product on hand at pharmaceutical distribution hubs may be necessary. If you expect your inventory quantities to fluctuate – either up or down – you’ll want to be sure your 3PL has the capacity and resources to support this. Your charges will also fluctuate depending on the amount of space and service you desire.
Is your third-party logistics provider ISO-certified?
When it comes to controlling components of the pharmaceutical supply chain, having a strict set of rules in place is crucial. Being ISO-9001 certified is the pinnacle of professionalism. To assure quality and consistency, ISO-certified firms have adapted their systems to stringent international standards.
There are a number of stringent ISO-9001 standards relating to product recalls, for example, including criteria for identifying and controlling “nonconforming outputs” (products that are damaged, expired, or otherwise fall short of requirements). Companies must be able to demonstrate consistent compliance with all of these requirements in order to become ISO certified.
Additional factors to consider
The 3PL warehouse should be kept clean and have enough storage capacity to allow for maintenance and inspection. For the medications being kept, it should have proper illumination, ventilation, and climatic conditions. A quarantine space for pharmaceuticals that have expired or can no longer be utilized should also be provided.
The inner and exterior security systems and operations of the facility must be able to prevent unlawful entrance and theft.
Drugs that don’t require special storage should be kept at “controlled room temperature” (according to the FDA).
The inventory and warehouse management systems of the provider must be able to give visibility into product location.
The 3PL must be able to document policies and processes, as well as inventories and distribution, in writing.