Direct Relief triples pharmaceutical cold chain capacity as global demand increases

Posted: October 20, 2021 at 4:12 p.m. EDT|Update: 2 hours ago

SANTA BARBARA, California, 20 October 2021 / PRNewswire / – Direct Relief Responds to Growing Demand for Refrigerated Medicines by Almost Tripling its Pharmaceutical Refrigeration Capacity.

Covid-19 vaccines for American Indian Health & Services in Santa Barbara are stored in Direct Relief’s warehouse inside an ultra-cold storage on October 14, 2021. The organization has invested in cold chain capacity to provide refrigerated medicines, free of charge, around the world. (Lara Cooper / Direct Help)

The aid organization recently completed a second cold room measuring 5,400 square feet, with racks spanning three floors and fully redundant refrigeration. Direct Relief’s existing cold room, a 2,900 square foot facility that opened in 2018 at its California headquarters, is already full most of the time. The two combined rooms can hold up to 677 pallets of medication to treat people with serious illnesses around the world.

Direct assistance invested $ 1.5 million to build and equip the new cold room and is now working to increase its existing solar and battery capacity to help offset the energy needs of the room. The value of Direct Relief’s cold chain shipments has almost quadrupled since 2018, from $ 102 million in the year ended June 30, 2018, To $ 387 million (roughly) during the year ended June 30, 2021. In total, the organization delivered 37.9 million defined daily doses of refrigerated or frozen drugs to 55 countries around the world in its 2021 fiscal year, including Covid-19 antibody treatments, insulin for children with type 1 diabetes and advanced chemotherapy drugs to treat pediatric cancer patients. .

The cold chain is an increasingly important part of medical logistics. Global cold chain pharmaceutical production is expected to increase 48% between 2018 and 2024, compared to 27% growth for room temperature pharmaceutical production, according to Pharmaceutical Commerce. In 2019, 45% of new drugs approved by the FDA required refrigeration or freezing.

“Even before Covid and the urgency of the global vaccination effort, the fact that most of the new therapies developed to treat and cure disease were cold chain products was sobering,” said the president and chief from the management of Direct Relief. Thomas Tighe. “The cold chain’s limited distribution capacity is already creating a practical barrier to people’s access to medicines and therapies – even when they are free. Given the direction of the research, if the gaps are not addressed, the difference between the haves and the have-nots will only intensify.People who are poor or who live in poor areas will simply not benefit from the profound scientific advances made in the field of health. “

Cold chain drug delivery requires a level of planning that far exceeds what is needed for conventional or unrefrigerated pharmaceuticals. Direct Relief must plan every step of the process – every link in the cold chain – to ensure that the drug stays within the required temperature range from the time it leaves its warehouse until it arrives.

Direct Relief uses modeling software to map the optimal shipping route and inform packaging requirements for conditions en route. The drug is placed in specially designed boxes to help maintain the required temperature. The boxes are lined with materials such as vacuum insulated panels to keep coolants at an optimum temperature and protect them from exposure to room temperature and with materials that freeze at temperatures below or above the freezing point of water, allowing precise control. The enclosures also include devices that continuously monitor temperature, transmitting data via cell towers along transport routes or via download and transmission to the endpoint. Shipments are typically modeled to protect drugs for up to 120 hours in transit.

“New drugs and therapies, whether for Covid-19, diabetes, cancer or other serious illnesses, are only good in their ability to reach patients,” said Damon taugher, vice president of global programs for Direct Relief. “A lot of analysis and oversight is done in our work to ensure that the transportation routes are controlled and reliable and that we are confident that we are bringing these essential drugs into a supply chain in remote parts of the world. “

While efforts to vaccinate the world’s population against Covid-19 will bring improved technology and practices, they will hardly establish a reliable global cold chain infrastructure.

“Significant capital investments are needed, not only for refrigerators and freezers, but also for resilient energy,” Taugher said. “Hurricane Ida was an example. If healthcare facilities don’t have adequate back-up power, no matter how good your refrigeration is, everything goes wrong. Food is a prerequisite for good health.”

Since 2015, Direct Relief has donated more than 300 pharmaceutical refrigerators, portable coolers and freezers to healthcare providers in nine countries, including health clinics across United States.

The organization also provided solar power and back-up batteries to health facilities in California, Porto Rico, and several Caribbean countries, helping to ensure that medicines stay cold in the event of a power failure.

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SOURCE Direct Help

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