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Pharmaceutical logistics. Every detail counts

There are nearly 12,000 pharmacies in Poland. FM Logistic, which has specialized in services for the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, is responsible for supplying a significant…

On April 15, 2024

In Poland, there are nearly 12 000 pharmacies (1). Logistics operator FM Logistic, which has specialised in services for the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, is responsible for supplying a large proportion of them. Across nearly 100,000 sq. m in Błonie near Warsaw, it operates its largest warehouse dedicated to pharmaceuticals in Central Europe. This is where the latest life-saving gene therapies are handled, for which the price per dose often exceeds several million zlotys.

The value of the pharmaceutical market in the period from April 2022 to March 2023 amounted to PLN 47.3 billion. At the same time, between 2021 and mid-2023, drug sales increased by nearly 7 percent. During the same period, there was also an increase in the average monthly number of patients by nearly 5 million (2). As patient demand for pharmaceuticals grows, so does the need for logistics services for the sector.

The logistics of medical products is one of the most challenging segments in the TSL sector. Every detail of it is regulated by the Pharmaceutical Law. It imposes above-standard responsibilities on logistics operators and requires specific competences. Rules for how warehouse for the pharmaceutical industry operate are precisely defined by best distribution practices. Restrictive regulations and standards are in place to ensure that medicines and medical products are stored in appropriate conditions in terms of temperature, humidity and safety.

A licence from the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspector to operate as a pharmaceutical wholesaler is required to handle medicinal products. FM Logistic has had its own wholesale facility for many years, but has also successfully operated wholesale facilities for pharmaceutical producers operating under their own licences. In both cases, it is crucial to maintain certain storage conditions. For many drugs, even a short exposure to unsuitable conditions can result in a loss of quality, efficacy or a change in the properties of the drug, and consequently even leading to toxic effects. The pharmaceutical warehouse in Błonie is divided into several zones. The temperature in the core zone is 15-25 degrees C, while in cold stores it is between 2 and 8 degrees C. There are seperate zones for controlled, psychotropic and cytostatic substances and returns. This space management is a guarantee for customers that their products, even those with special requirements, are stored under optimal conditions.

The team in Błonie handles an average of 20 trucks each day, making a total of 15,000 pallets of pharmaceutical products per month. FM Logistic’s services, however, goes far beyond just storing them. All this is thanks to a wealth of know-how and advanced tools These include the handling of returns of medicinal products, but also their control. This is particularly important when up to 50 million items are prepared every month.

The operator controls the medical preparations at each stage of handling. One of the most significant is the picking and preparation of goods for transport. “When preparing products for release, we carry out piece, carton or pallet preparation depending on demand. When the goods are ready, they go to the release area,” Paweł Janicki of FM Logistic describesthe process. A comprehensive approach to the handling of pharmaceutical products allows manufacturers and distributors of medicines to place the entire operation under a logistics operator. This is a convenient and effective solution.

The logistics service does not end with the release of goods for transport. Every day, shipments are made from the Błonie distribution centre to 700 hospitals, more than 10,000 pharmacies in Poland and pharmaceutical wholesale facilities, and in accordance with the Pharmaceutical Law, the transport process is regarded as an extension of the warehousing process and is also subject to a number of conditions. The most important of these is to maintain the continuity of the cold chain. To ensure the required transport conditions, FM Logistic uses a dedicated fleet of 300 specialised temperature-controlled vehicles. In addition, they are equipped with state-of-the-art telematics systems that continuously monitor all transport parameters. Thanks to the GPS system, customers have access to real-time tracking of shipments.

When choosing a logistics operator for pharmacy, it is worth opting for experience and competence. More than 40 pharmaceutical customers with different requirements, who are already gaining by cooperating with FM Logistic, are the best confirmation of the quality of the services provided in Błonie.

(1) data from Statistics Poland for 2022

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