Since the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical industries have begun optimising storage for drugs, vaccines, and other medical products.
With medical product production being pricey, it is wiser to invest in proper storage to prevent losses worth millions in drugs and vaccines.
Different products require varying storage parameters under temperature, pressure, and even humidity.
Investing in a specialised vaccine fridge/vaccination fridge can be the key to optimising production and lowering costs. However, the various storage specs can make choosing a storage solution daunting. Worry not because this guide covers everything you need to know about pharmaceutical storage solutions.
Why do Medical Products require Storage Solutions?
Unlike files, medical products cannot sit in cabinets at room temperature. They vary in nature and require careful storage to remain effective. Some enzymes and hormones like insulin see mass production, and manufacturers need to ensure that they have a relatively long shelf life. Such long-term storage calls for low temperatures. Drugs and other chemical formulas can decay or dissociate if not under the right conditions.
Vaccines occupy an entirely different category since they vary in nature. With vaccine technology advancing rapidly, new storage solutions need to keep up. mRNA types and similar molecular-based vaccines are most susceptible to damage. The more popular live and attenuated vaccines require care since they comprise live organisms.
What conditions are favourable for Drug storage?
There are predominantly three temperature ranges for drug storage to retain potency and maximise shelf life – Cold storage, Refrigerated storage, and Cool storage. Some drugs, such as vaccines and serums, require extensively cold storage at -40C.
Some drugs require light-resistant and airtight containers to remain potent.
Many liquid-based medical products such as syrups, toxins, insulin, and vaccines require cold storage. Opting for Cool to Cold storage is always a wise decision when in doubt.
Large-scale industrial fridges are the typical storage solutions for manufacturing factories. However, transport and laboratory facilities typically employ commercial fridges for the job.
Researchers typically test shelf-life at different temperatures before clinical approval and mass production during vaccine development. While revolutionary products are life-saving, they should be commercially and medically viable.
The temperature typically plays a crucial role in maintaining vaccine viability and potency. In specific cases, attenuated microorganisms in vaccine solutions need very strict conditions to elicit a potent immune response after injection.
Fridge Features for Vaccine Storage
While many laboratories globally employ commercial refrigerators for vaccine storage, the furthest many of them go -25C.
In specific cases, active ingredients in a vaccine require -40C to remain viable. Such temperatures require special fridges that use more electricity to achieve faster cooling and lower temperatures.
Some drugs are light-sensitive and require dark, cold storage. Pharmaceutical industries often use a vaccine fridge/vaccination fridge with optional lighting. In comparison, commercial fridges have automated lighting that may affect the chemical components in a vaccine.
Cool storage assists in keeping active components in a vaccine effective. However, many such compounds (especially live ones) inactivate upon freezing. While they require cold storage, freezing can result in huge losses. Opting for a refrigerator with impeccable temperature control to prevent freezing is a wise industrial decision.
Compartmental Temperature Control
Laboratories often store a small number of varying vaccines. Each vaccine has varying criteria for storage, and having compartmental temperature control optimises storage. Employing a single refrigerator with compartmental temperature or with a separate freezer compartment helps save space.
Effective Temperature Control
Like ovens, refrigerators also become less effective in controlling temperature with time. However, a 5C shift can ruin entire vaccine batches. Look for warranties and effective long-term control while purchasing a vaccine fridge.
Storage is only one part of pharmaceutical science. Check out the infographic below to see all the steps of how your medicine is made!
Infographic provided by The Emmes Company, a vaccine trial facilitator