Managing Cold Chain Temperature in the “Last Mile”

The Cold chain is a part of the overall supply chain procedure. It is used in the production, distribution and storage of products in order to keep the basic characteristics of the products intact. Cold chain actually provides a level of control over the temperature under which pharmaceuticals and other products won’t lose their associated value.

Most of the time, pharmaceuticals are transported using cold chain technology. Sometimes only a couple of batches get manufactured each year. The process of manufacturing is long and complex as well. Sometimes these products have very limited supply and source. It takes many years of research and investment to produce these products, as a result, the cost is high and yield is low. However, sometimes these valuable products get damaged due to some risks involved in the “last mile” of the supply chain.

Here “last mile” means the point of consumption. Places like homes, hospitals or doctor’s offices. There are a lot of stories of pharmaceuticals being transported very carefully to the point of consumption, and then getting spoiled or damaged when exposed to the home environment.

Even with temperature controlled containers it is difficult to know how the medicines have been handled during transit. Using a temperature monitoring label is very important in order to take action if there is a temperature breach. Passive temperature controlled packaging can be used to serve the same purpose. It involves using some extra protective packaging. Now it is mandatory to show compliance with drug temperature guidelines at every stage of the cold chain process.

In the public health care system, ‘last mile’ means the link between service delivery point and a community health worker. Most of the time the community health worker receives the delivery from service delivery and the established inventory control system controls the frequency and method for their resupply. The logistics cycle ‘last mile’ starts with transportation between resupply point and SDP (service delivery point). After that, there is data collection and resupply calculation phase, and finally, there is order fulfillment. In order to make sure that the vaccines remain usable once delivered, passive temperature controlled packaging and temperature sensitive labels should be used.