Though New York residents woke up this morning to find a regular six inch dusting of snow rather than the historic 12 to 18 inches predicted by meteorologists, surrounding regions in the Northeast have been battered by Winter Storm Juno with roads blocked and over 7,500 flights cancelled.
Such severe weather conditions can hamper distribution efforts of both pharmaceutical products and clinical trial materials, disrupting the supply chain and jeopardising temperature sensitive drugs.
But according to Cathy Roberson, a Senior Analyst at research firm Transport Intelligence, the pharmaceutical industry – like the city of New York itself – was prepared for the worst.
“The storm had been forecasted for several days so logistics providers, hospitals, transportation providers have prepared in advanced,” she told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. Furthermore, “in terms of keeping goods at a proper temperature there’s usually back-up generators just in case power is lost.”
Clinical trial logistics
Her views were supported by clinical trial logistics firm World Courier, with spokesperson Sue Lee telling us its customers had been braced “for delays in the supply chain for the most part, with stock in place to cover short time periods.”
While airports, roads and customers from New Jersey to Massachusetts and beyond are still closed, Lee said World Courier remains operational.
“Some shipments will be delayed because of the very high number of cancelled flights, but we are maintaining temperature control for shipments in our possession. Other shipments are being held at origin, pending resumption of flights into and out of the northeast US. We are keeping customers updated as the status and situation changes.”
Fellow clinical trials logistics solution firm Marken described to us how it had a continuity plan in place for Juno:
“Marken evaluated the various routes and best contingency options for our client’s shipments,” said spokesperson Christine Noble. “Advance planning for a CLO [Clinical Logistics Organization] has to include evaluating the stability of the product involved, the packaging, airport capabilities, routing options, and storage availability in case of closure of client offices.”
She added temperature sensitive drugs or shipments which cannot be delivered are stored in Marken’s warehouse – protected against power loss - until clients can resume accepting deliveries.
According to Marken’s website, the firm is continuing to reroute Northeast US shipments through alternative airports to minimise delays, despite improving conditions Wednesday morning.