Storing Time and Temperature-Sensitive Drugs: A Warehousing Guide

Two employees at a warehouse

Two employees at a warehouseStorage is a crucial aspect in a drug control system. This entails maintaining proper environmental control from temperature to ventilation and segregation.

Although there are already set international guidelines and best practices for the storage of drugs, it is vital for pharmaceutical companies and any health care facility storing drugs to review their practise. This document provides general recommendations on designing a drug storage facility from environmental auditing to storage shelving systems selection.

Conducting Environmental Auditing

Conducting an environmental audit before drafting a warehouse design ensures optimal operational performance. The World Health Organisation recommends internationally recognised audit systems such as BREEAM, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Pearl Rating System. All systems promote environmental sustainability, but each has its own focus such as Pearl’s emphasis on water conservation.

Deciding on Warehouse Layouts

The two main layout options for pharmaceutical warehouses are the ‘U’ flow and the ‘Through’ flow. The U flow places the receiving and dispatching area on the same side of the building with the high demand items placed near the staging area. The Throughflow, on the other hand, places the receiving and dispatching area on opposite sides and stations the high demand items between these areas.

When considering the ideal layout for a warehouse, factors to consider include the type of warehousing operation, the building’s physical layout and road access points. One must also design the site for long-term flexibility to take into account possible expansion or changes in warehouse operations.

Selecting Storage Shelving Units

Selecting shelving units will depend on the site’s dimension, product type, product volume, product handling equipment and environmental factors. Pharmaceuticals that need to be stored in cold rooms or freezer rooms, for example, require zinc plated shelving designed for cold environments.

For walk-in rooms up to 100m3, adjustable slatted shelving is recommended. For large, high-rise rooms, pallet racking creates the most space and volume-efficient arrangement.

These are some of the main considerations when creating the appropriate drug storage environment. Particular attention must be given to contamination, UV rays, atmospheric temperatures and moisture. If properly observed, the safety, efficacy and saleability of drugs are ensured.