The Pharmaceutical Cold Chain

The pharmaceutical cold chain is required for some actives, such as vaccines, with strict temperature requirements applying to many high-value active pharmaceutical ingredients that have short shelf lives. Good Distribution Practice (GDP) for pharmaceuticals emphasizes temperature control during the whole supply chain, including transport.

Transporting healthcare products by air demands a rigorous logistical approach and ensures rapid delivery under tightly controlled temperatures conditions. Typically, active air freight containers use non-flammable R-134a in a battery-powered vapour compression cycle, with fully redundant electric heating and compressor cooling systems and an insulated container shell. The cooling capacity and the refrigerant charge are low. Avoiding temperature fluctuations and maintaining constant temperature is vital, particularly for active pharmaceuticals such as vaccines.