How to Safely Transport Pharmaceuticals

What is even more important than manufacturing pharmaceuticals is, definitely, transporting them – it is, after all, the road to where they are needed. Shipping them means extra care for the products. We are here to tell you what precautions you need to take in case you are in charge of transporting pharmaceuticals.  If you need a pharmaceutical courier, you came to the right place.

Cargo theft

Of course, theft is one of the most common things that happens when it comes to transporting pharmaceuticals. In 2017, more than 90% of the cargo theft involved in trucks. Most of the pharmaceuticals are the target of theft since they can cost a lot on the black market or on the streets. Theft is also one of the reasons for counterfeiting.

What you need to do is to complete a risk assessment. Make sure you know where you are vulnerable to cargo theft. Perhaps it is during loading or unloading. Where exactly on the road is where you are the most vulnerable at – when the truck stops for fuel or when the driver is asleep.

Also, make sure you keep in mind the items that get returned to the manufacturer for destruction – those trucks are also at risk.

Most of the companies have their own list of rules for the road, which are basically instructions for drivers that also include route assessment and the expected behavior. If you stay on the truck with the rules, you should be fine.

The temperature

When you have pharmaceuticals in your truck, the cargo needs to be set to a certain temperature in order to maintain the safety and the efficacy of the meds. The temperature may vary – it all depends on the meds you are shipping – from 58 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Without taking care of the temperature, the pharmaceuticals will probably lose their efficiency and will become dangerous to use.

Keep in mind that there are two types of cold chain packaging when it comes to transporting pharmaceuticals: active and passive. Active is when the truck has a built-in cooling unit that’s supposed to keep the entire area at a constant temperature. Passive is when you get styrofoam or polystyrene packaging, with ice to keep the products cold. This one is tricky, due to the fact that is can make the products become too cold or freeze, and that might damage them for good.

Sensitive products

When transporting pharmaceuticals, people have packed them heavily to keep them safe and in the correct temperature that was set by the manufacturer. The cold chain transportation was not that important at first, not until it evolved from an insignificant drug to a biologically based product.

In 2013, the EU has introduced Good Distribution Practice (short for GDP). This means that the meds need to be taken from a licensed supply chain, and then stored, and transported and taken care of under all the correct conditions. This also meant that qualified cold chain transportation services were required more and more.


This one is one of the most difficult cargo to insure, due to the fact that they are high in value. You might need to make a partnership with a transportation provider due to the fact that they know more about the pharmaceutical industry. They will take all the necessary steps in order for everything to be safe and the products to get at their final destination – they understand the importance of this kind of shipment better than anyone.

How to alleviate the risk of theft?

You are probably wondering if there is something that can alleviate the problem.

First of all, you might want to make sure that you keep in mind the driver instruction. What you need to do is to try to minimize the amount of time you spend in unsecured areas – those are the rest areas or truck stops. Make sure you are fully rested and that your truck is full of fuel – this is the key to a successful transport.

Make sure you are aware of all the potential risk factors you can see on the road, and if you do see some, do not forget to report them as soon as possible – this way, you will be able to reduce the overall cargo theft numbers. Remember, you’re not only helping yourself, but you are also helping others.

Make sure that the cargo is sealed properly. Also, it might be a good idea to equip your truck with a real-time GPS tracking device, that can alert you when a truck is not where it is supposed to be, or when a truck stopped somewhere outside its intended routes – this way, you will be able to alert the driver or the authorities, in case something happened to the driver.