To many of us, a pharmacy is a place where we buy over-the-counter or prescription drugs. A pharmacy is a place where the public can access to buy their prescribed drugs. A pharmacist is a healthcare professional that is assigned and responsible to dispense the requested medicine and oversee the drug storage monitoring. In the cold chain, pharmacy is one of the last stops of drugs and medicines before reaching the consumers. Making pharmacy drug storage monitoring risky. But then, like any other, implementing a drug storage monitoring still depends on the type of facility:
1. Retail Pharmacy
They are the most common type that is accessible to people. Pharmacies in supermarkets and grocery stores are examples of this type. Traditional drugstores are also retail pharmacies. Because of its visibility, retail pharmacies take on a wide array of prescriptions. A retail pharmacy also holds a variety of over-the-counter medications. The pharmacists should easily address specific inquiries beyond the prescription notes. This type of pharmacy has the easiest drug storage monitoring. Over-the-counter medications do not have special or complicated storage requirements. They can easily be stored at a cool dry place or ambient room temperature. They should be good as long as they are not stored under direct sunlight.
2. Hospital Pharmacy
A pharmacy in a hospital setting performs both inpatient and outpatient services. Because it is part of the hospital, the pharmacy would be the endpoint for many patients. Working with the medical staff accounts for the pharmaceutical function in the hospital. Outpatient services are also part of the pharmacy function. Ensuring accurate dispensing of medication is the expected purpose of hospital pharmacies. Just like in retail, over-the-counter drugs and medications available in hospital pharmacies do not require complicated storage. But, pharmacies like this also have sensitive drugs which have extremely low-temperature storage requirements. Hence, the existence of ultra-low-temperature refrigerators.
3. Clinic Pharmacy
This setting has the most straightforward process in dispensing medicines. A clinic would specialize in a specific medical need. Depending on the specialization, clinic pharmacies hold particular types of drugs. Most of their drug inventory responds to the majority of specialized prescriptions. It is known that most specialty clinics are investing in the equipment and machines their industry requires such as the storage for medicines such as medical-grade refrigerators.
4. Online Order Pharmacy
The proliferation of online pharmacies addresses the changing drug consumption of the public. Because of people’s lifestyle changes, online pharmacies cover the need to dispense medicine. The set-up is very limited to the kind of medicines for disposal as there is a relative need to check and confirm prescriptions. Online or mail-order pharmacies can be beneficial for over-the-counter medicinal needs.
Quality Standards in Pharmacies
Because people’s lives depend on these medicines, drugstores should follow proper storage. Specific storage locations are necessary, as indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions. There are also specific storage criteria for product refrigeration.
A significant factor in the industry quality is correct manufacturing and drug storage monitoring. The quality of the medicine influences its efficacy when administered. As drugs have specific manufacturing make-up, storage conditions are essential. Some drugs have information from the manufacturer found in the packaging. This includes physical components such as odor and color. This also pertains to physicochemical properties. Considering this information influences the drug’s shelf-life and storage parameters.
Often, drugs come with analysis certificates. These are validation that the product complies with specific regulatory standards. Most of the data are already presented in the medicine packaging. These are:
– international non-propriety names
– manufacturer information
– expiration date
This information is a quality-check reference during inventories. These checkpoints are necessary to preserve the reliability and quality of the medicine.
Drug Storage Conditions
The main factor influencing drug quality is storage conditions. These conditions are referred to as environmental parameters. These parameters affect the medicine’s active ingredients. As defined by the manufacturing process, there are specific storage guidelines to follow. These guidelines ensure the utmost quality of the pharmaceuticals.
Temperature is the main factor in creating good drug storage conditions for medicines. This factor is not only limited to pharmacy storage. Even during transit, the temperature is already a very much considered parameter.
Some vaccines are sensitive to heat. Specific temperature ranges are a must to maintain the shelf life of vaccines. This is why medical-grade refrigerators are suitable investments for vaccine storage. Drugs in solution form may not need freezing at ultra-low temperatures. They have a different make-up hence a different temperature range.
2. Air and humidity
Ever wonder why pharmacies use airtight containers? Did you notice a special rubber seal in refrigerator doors? All these are vital in making tightly closed drug storage equipment. The seal makes sure that little air enters and circulates that will warm up the system. Air is a contributor to drug deterioration. This is because air has oxygen content and it creates humidity. This is also the reason why it is recommended to open drug storage in a limited time. The lesser time ensures that storage remains airtight.
Ever noticed a difference in the bottle of your cough syrup? This is because light is a factor in drug quality as well. Solutions are mainly prone to deterioration once exposed to light. The colored containers are protective barriers for liquid drugs. It protects from the harmful effects of light exposure.
There are two significant considerations on monitoring: deterioration and expiration. These are vital in a pharmaceutical setting.
Drug deterioration is inevitable. With the reduced efficacy, there are grave consequences to drug administration to humans. Over time, the ingredient make-up of a medicine can be detrimental. These ingredients may become toxic for long periods.
Here we monitor the levels of basic environmental factors that were mentioned above. Regular monitoring helps to prolong a drug’s quality. With standard storing conditions, it ensures that environmental parameters are at best. When conditions are at best, a drug’s active ingredients are also preserved.
In the long run, a drug’s efficacy will diminish. Even inadequate conditions, there is always a timeline for a medicine’s safety. Expiration dates are always seen in labels and packaging. This indicates that after a particular date, the drug is no longer effective. Medicine use before the stated expiration date refers to the stability of the drug. It guarantees that it is safe to use.
Expiry dates are a legal obligation and of ethical consideration. As such, most health professionals will remind patients to consume their medicines before expiration. The risk in the consumption of an expired drug may be hazardous. In the end, expiration dates are a safety precaution.
While both deterioration and expiration are product-specific factors, there are other points of consideration in monitoring. These aspects pertain to accountability and action steps. Action steps are necessary moves when unforeseen things happen.
All healthcare practitioners have the responsibility to ensure a medicine’s quality. They should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. There are also patient information leaflets that provide instructions on vaccine administration, for example. All people at every touchpoint are accountable. This is because there are many touchpoints for the drugs to arrive in a pharmacy.
All responsible healthcare practitioner handles drug storage monitoring of the medicines. This entails regular checking of parameters and inventory from manufacturing to the end-user. Accountability also confirms receipt of delivery to random checking must ensue. Valuable medical cargos also require security processes as part of accountability. Specific data entries in monitoring forms must not be forgotten as well. These are concrete evidence in making sure that storage conditions are at best.
Accidents and Breakdowns
Power outage and drug storage breakdowns are a few of the accidents that affect medicine efficacy. It is standard practice for pharmacies to prepare alternatives. There are stand-by medical-grade fridges that will serve as drug storage in case of failure. A generator can also aid in supplementing the power supply in the event of an outage.
There are also standard operating procedures to check drug storage. Check the drug storage monitoring form and confirm the time of power outage. This can determine how long was the exposure of the drugs below its required conditions. Once you determine the time of exposure, it is best to check with the manufacturer. They can tell if medicines are still safe to use.
If advised to consider the medicine as waste, record the incident and report to the pharmacy management. The management will take into account inventory. They will also address the alternative routes for these incidents. It will be a way to find back-ups in unforeseen cases that will make certain storage conditions are still within the recommended range.
Drug Storage Monitoring
From all types of pharmaceutical drug storage discussed. It is prominent that the best-conditioned drug storage is a must in order to dispense the medicines in their best quality. This type of storage is managed by healthcare professionals and facilities that are well equipped in handling pharmaceutical products. Drug storage monitoring is also practiced at every step in the journey of pharmaceutical products. The responsibility of maintaining the drug storage’s best state can not be solely left at the hands of these people and equipment. A monitoring solution is also recommended, smart innovation systems that can function for 24 hours.
Drug storage monitoring is not just for gigantic storage. Retail pharmacy drug storage still requires monitoring for temperature and humidity. Medical grade refrigerators also require this monitoring system along with power monitoring.
Drug storage monitoring is an essential part of pharmaceutical industry operations. Beyond the on-site operations, this specific monitoring actually starts from the manufacturing plant to transit to the end-user.
A controlled temperature chain is an innovative approach in the delivery of pharmaceuticals to the public. This supply chain is directed towards the transport of vaccines. A fundamental element to cold chain monitoring is the temperature monitoring system. This is a proven effective method to track, record, and monitor accurate temperature data. This new innovation also provides remote monitoring whereas each container and refers could be monitored while in transit using only your mobile phone and laptop. In cases of temperature fluctuations, the system sends warnings that will pre-empt any disaster from happening. If one considers more robust monitoring, there are various types of supplemental sensors as well. There are environmental sensors that are specific to environmental parameters.
AKCP Remote Monitoring Solutions come in the form of remote site temperature sensors, power monitoring, and humidity sensors. They are specially designed to function in a controlled temperature chain setting.
If medicine transport and drug storage are primary monitoring concerns, AKCP has a complete cold chain monitoring system that is readily available. This includes GPS tracking, data logging, and cloud monitoring. AKCPro Pharma-Mon Server Central Management Software enables this kind of comprehensive monitoring specifically designed for pharmaceutical products such as covid-19 vaccines.
It is a fact that environmental parameters can directly affect drug stability and quality. Special considerations in achieving the best environmental condition for medicine are a must. As such, comprehensive cold chain and drug storage monitoring is the best logical action step towards achieving the best conditions. An innovative cold chain monitoring will not only ensure a drugs’ efficacy. It will also ensure the safety of human lives.