Specialized cold chain packaging addresses patient, blood-transportation concerns

Sofrigam promotes its Igloo kit for pharmacy-to-home; Sonoco, a new reusable container

Years ago (and, worrisomely, in some cases still today) pharma cold chain packaging amounted to beer coolers with some ice thrown in, but the field has advanced dramatically over the past decade with highly engineered containers and cooling technologies. Now, specialized containers for specific parts of the distribution channels of life sciences products are appearing. The latest involve the critical “last mile” delivery to the patient’s home, and economical and dependable shipping of blood products.

In the latter case, Sonoco ThermoSafe (Arlington Heights, IL) has announced the Via reusable, hard-case unit for storage and transport appilciations within hospitals and blood banks. The unit, with handholds and shoulder straps for manual conveyance, has a payload cage surrounded by Sonoco’s PureTemp containers of phase-change material (the source of cold).

Sofrigam (Rueil-Malmaison Cedex, France) has developed the Igloo kit, intended for use at pharmacies when temperature-sensitive products are dispensed to patients. The soft-cover package, with integrated cooling and insulation, provides up to 1 hour of protection at 2-8°C. It was developed at the behest of the French National Council of Pharmacists. Sofrigam says that tests have shown that heat-sensitive medicines exposed to 20°C (68°F) will exceed 8°C within 5 minutes—an obvious concern for patients who would obtain a drug at the local pharmacy, toss it in the car, and then go about performing other tasks. The package is said to be reusable up to 50 times (although how that process would be managed, by the patient and the pharmacy together, is unclear).

A variety of consumer-oriented packaging is available in the US for patients carrying temperature-sensitive drugs, but the area is relatively unregulated, leaving consumers on their own.