Healthcare is one of Panalpina’s fastest growing business sectors, serving both pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers. Today, Panalpina is one of the world’s top five supply chain service providers for the healthcare industry and the business accounts for around 5% of the company’s revenues. Panalpina’s newly GDP certified facility at Brussels airport has a dedicated area for storing pharmaceuticals in transit. Human (and veterinary) medicines can either be stored at between 2°C and 8°C or between 15°C and 25°C. The temperatures are constantly monitored and temperature sensitive cargo is handled by trained Panalpina personnel only. A special customer service desk coordinates and oversees the cross-docking and interim storage of the valuable goods.
Panalpina currently operates 14 facilities (Centers of Excellence) worldwide and expects to have 22 by the end of 2014 where the company is fully GDP compliant. “In Brussels, we were not content with being GDP compliant,” says Peter Herling, Managing Director for Belgium and The Netherlands. “As in the case of Schiphol Airport, we wanted to take it one step further and achieve GDP certification by an official body, in this case the Belgian FAMHP.”
The Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products audited Panalpina and issued the certificate. An official GDP certification is harder to come by but it also has one major advantage, says Herling: “For our customers in the healthcare industry selecting the right partner goes beyond comparing costs. They are required by law to audit contractors like us. With an official GDP certification in hand, it is much easier for us – and consequently also for them – to prove that we adhere to the highest quality standards and mitigate risk.”
Panalpina’s operation at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was already officially GDP certified in October 2011. The company’s operations at the Cargo Center of Luxembourg’s Findel Airport were the first to obtain official GDP certification in June 2010. Next in line for certification is Panalpina’s US air freight hub in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Good Distribution Practice sets standards for transportation and storage of medicinal products for human use, including levels of temperature, hygiene, pressure etc. In Europe, GDP guidelines are in line with the Directive of the Board of the European Community 92/25/EEC, while in the U.S. the guidelines are based on the Code of Federal Regulations 21 CFR 210/211 and USP 1079. Recently the EU has reviewed the GDP guidelines and a new version is expected to be in force by early 2013.