In Focus: New Technology & Sustainability

A recent article, published in the September issue of Pharmaceutical Commerce, described many of the technology trends being implemented across the life science and healthcare supply chains to meet increasing demands for temperature-controlled solutions.

Specifically, investments are being made in advanced container design to optimize payloads; innovative insulation materials including PCMs; real-time data monitoring and predictive analytics; and strong partnerships across supply chain stakeholders.

The ultra-cold requirements of the COVID-19 vaccines needed at urgent speeds, followed by supply disruptions experienced over the past year, fueled the need for technology innovation. However, the article explains even before the pandemic, new technologies and capabilities were emerging.


New packaging technology is being driven by the demands of the supply chain and it’s end users. For increasing decentralized clinical trials, where the end user is the patient, disposable or single-use packaging is often used. However sustainable options that are compostable or curbside recyclable are viable options for direct-to-patient trials as well.

When shipping in closed loop supply chain networks, collaborative partnerships between freight forwarders, the packaging company and global service centers can ensure a successful sustainable packaging model for clinical trials, cell gene therapies and bulk distribution.

Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Vivian Berni, Director of Product Management, weighed in regarding the advancements being made in Sustainably initiatives. 

“In the last two years, we have noticed a drastic change in sustainability leading strategy and many of the actions behind cold-chain decisions, ranging from packaging considerations to 3PL service agreements, and we expect to see more aggressive commitments in this arena, as the sustainability theme continues to grow in relevance”.

Future of pharma supply

As the pharmaceutical supply chain and its patrons continue to rapidly evolve, the manufacturers shipping life science products will have more choice, yet more challenges to meet demands.

“Traditionally, the supply chain has almost always been considered a back-office, transactional function, but increasingly, this activity—especially as it relates to time- and temperature-sensitive pharma products—is being recognized as a critical pillar in an organization’s success”.

Vivian Berni continues, “It directly informs and shapes the strategic direction, growth and competitive positioning of that company, and ensures that patient access to therapy will not be upended.” As a result, she adds that proper investment needs to be funneled all throughout various levels of leadership, “supported by the right tools to manage dynamically—not Excel spreadsheets.”

To read the full article, Pharma Cold Chain: Pushing the Envelope, visit Pharmaceutical Commerce website.  The article was written by Suzanne Shelley, Contributing Editor.