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Best Practices for Shipping Prescription Pharmaceuticals

December 20, 2016

Anyone who works in the medical industry understands that shipping and delivering pharmaceutical products is a very meticulous process that must be closely monitored for safety, security, and legal compliance. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, requires that only DEA-registered distributors ship prescription medications. Yet similar regulation applies to certain over-the-counter drugs and shipping services as well.

Here is a discussion of the importance of proper pharmaceutical shipping, key details for documentation, and steps that pharmaceutical shippers can take to ensure safe and accurate distribution.

The Importance of Properly Shipping Pharmaceuticals

Medications reach patients in a variety of ways: direct shipment from a manufacturer, administration through a doctor’s office, or through a system of wholesalers, distributors, and pharmacies. But if medical prescriptions are not properly shipped, they could become destroyed, lose potency, and fall into the wrong hands. Prescription medications are very expensive to develop and manufacture as a business and to purchase as a consumer, so faulty shipping practices will result create unnecessary and costly losses.

Some types of pharmaceuticals are more challenging to ship than others, such as customized treatments for patients with rare diseases. High-value drugs, controlled substances, and biomaterial that requires cryogenic temperatures require the knowledge and expertise of shippers who understand these risks and how to overcome them.

Key Details to Document for Pharmaceutical Shipping

Accurate and detailed documentation is very important in the pharmaceutical industry. Shipments should be placed in pharmaceutical industry bags with labels that establish a chain of custody, list the type of medication with dosage information, and have space to list dates for shipment and receipt.

The quantity of medication, weight, color, and brief description can also be included on the shipment label and documentation as necessary.  With an established procedure in place, pharmaceutical shippers can maintain compliance and reduce costs for damaged products and potential legal action.

Steps to Ensure Safe and Accurate Distribution

Fortunately, there are certain practices and precautions that shippers of pharmaceuticals can take to ensure safe and correct distribution of their products.

For example, protective packaging should accompany pharmaceuticals to reduce the risk of package breakage.  Shippers should also label packaging with specific temperature or humidity requirements if pharmaceuticals at best kept at certain conditions. Shippers should require delivery drivers to obtain the recipient’s signature for proof of delivery and to establish chain of custody. Meanwhile, wholesalers and pharmacies that receive medications should carefully inspect the delivery documentation to ensure that the package hasn’t been tampered with or damaged in the mail.

A meticulous attention to detail is required in pharmaceutical shipping because even seemingly small changes can make a huge difference for the patient needing the medication to recover and be well. Pharmaceuticals should pass as few hands as possible to reduce the risk of human error, and management must ensure that those hands are trustworthy and detail-oriented.

Superior Bag’s pharmaceutical bags help shippers and receivers of pharmaceuticals stay organized and prevent distribution errors. Our goal of our business is to offer the most secure, reliable, and technologically advanced security bags for storage, shipping, and transportation. Contact us toll-free at 800-522-1236 to order the bags most relevant to your business or a sample packet to try out a few and make the right decision.

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