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Upholding pharma standards

Our editor Keith Mwanalushi discusses the air cargo industry's adoption of new standards for the transportation of pharmaceutical goods

It has been interesting to observe the rate at which the air cargo industry is adopting new standards for the transportation of pharmaceutical goods. These products, and especially vaccines, are time but also temperature sensitive cargo.

In this edition of Airline Cargo Management, we received an overwhelming response to our feature article on IATA’s CEIV Pharma certification and by the looks of it, the industry is pretty much singing off the same hymn sheet when it comes to standardising pharma transportation.

Sea freight still takes a significant chunk of the pharma business, but air freight demand is gaining momentum. The air freight industry is also benefiting from the rising demand of biopharma, which has a shorter shelf life and are more sensitive to temperature variations. According to IATA, more than $13 billion are spent worldwide on temperature-controlled biopharma logistics and they are estimating that this will further rise to nearly $17 billion in 2021.

Over the past few years the air transport industry focused on standardisation and compliance to introduce a more transparent logistics chain. As IATA has previously stated, a concentrated effort to improve the level of competency as well as operational and technical preparedness is urgently required to stop the alarming decline of air cargo’s market share of global pharmaceutical product transport.

CEIV certification raises pharmaceutical operational awareness – shippers have a better understanding of the process and therefore can mitigate risk and plan accordingly. Furthermore, it fosters quality management for pharmaceutical airfreight and ensures that CEIV participants have robust products and procedures in place that can be measured for continued improvement.

The consensus is that CEIV validation means believing in an internationally recognised standard programme that ensures that the industry meets all applicable regulations and standards, thus protecting the end users of the various pharmaceuticals goods shipped by air. If shipments are compromised, this can have serious consequences especially with vaccines and medications.

Of course, there are other standards available and some operators have chosen not to adopt CEIV, but to be measured against the same standards certainly makes sense.

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