The US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) introduced the proposal of a new chapter, which they hope to publish in the March/April 2012 Pharmacopeial Forum 38(2) journal, which would concentrate on good distribution practices in the pharmaceutical supply chain to avoid theft and risk factors.
The information, which is non-mandatory, covers a variety of supply chain topics including the consequences of pharmaceutical theft, factors leading to increased risk, implementation of carrier security systems to reduce risk, and security procedures for carriers.
As USP’s proposal explains, “Companies that store and ship large amounts of products (pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, distributors, etc.) should review their security procedures for their warehouses and distribution centers and their transportation procedures, particularly for transportation by trucks and tractor trailers.”
The risks of choosing an unsecure carrier for a lower rate can result in drastic consequences. As the USP notes, although a portion of the shipment may be stolen, often the whole lot needs to be recalled for health risks resulting from contamination problems from improper storage or handling.
These risks increase when choosing a transportation company that does not communicate with their drivers, does not apply tracking systems onto their fleets, or leaves their cargo unattended. As Walt Beadling (Managing Partner for the Cargo Security Alliance) and Jim Barrett, President of Road Scholar Transport, explain in their presentation on cargo security (available at http://www.roadscholar.com/university.php), “cargo at rest is cargo at risk,” which is why Road Scholar never leaves their trucks unattended in high-risk areas lacking security surveillance.
Instead, the USP lists ways in which shippers/manufacturers can reduce the risk of their shipment being tampered with. These include choosing carriers with the following (provided by http://www.usp.org/pdf/EN/USPNF/c1083.pdf):
-Tamper-evident seals, utilized by Road Scholar Transport along with Navalock and a tamper-evident steel locking bar
-Immobilization devices and alarms. Road Scholar employs Qualcomm distress/panic messaging which allows for the disablement of the vehicle to prevent your cargo from taking off with the wrong person(s).
-Two-way communication between carrier and driver
-Monitored and/or Geofenced GPS tracking system. A Geofence is a virtual perimeter on a geographic area using a location-based service, so that when an asset with a tracking device enters or exits the area a notification is generated. Road Scholar Transport has geofencing technology to help protect your freight. As an example, a virtual fence could be set around a distribution center yard. Maybe this yard is closed on weekends. If the geofence is activated and a Road Scholar Transport trailer is removed from that yard by someone unauthorized, an alert can be sent to the operations center.
-Covert cargo tracking device.
Not only should carriers apply security technology to their fleets, but shippers should follow secure procedures as well. These include verifying that the vehicle is properly sealed prior to transport, “planning schedules and routes to avoid stops or overnight parking in insecure locations,” avoiding weekend delivery, screening drivers (companies can verify Road Scholar drivers at www.roadscholar.com), and especially “using only known carriers.”
This applies to those shippers utilizing brokers to move their freight, in which case you often do not know who is transporting your freight. (Learn more here).
Read the USP’s proposal at http://www.usp.org/pdf/EN/USPNF/c1083.pdf.
What do you think of the USP’s proposal? List your comments below.