Big changes are afoot in the Pharma freight sector as it adapts to Alan Kennedy reports on the problem of divergent GDP guidelines, and hears from IATA’s Andrea Gruber about the organisation’s programme, which attempts to bring order to the table.
The Pharma freight sector is going through a lot of changes, as it adapts to market, regulatory and technological trends. It relies heavily on air freight to move its products around the world. Although GDP legislation applies equally across logistical modes, the structure complexity of flying presents particular challenges. Aircraft offer an obvious speed advantage for time-sensitive products, but this must be offset against issues such as multiple hand-off points, unique security risks, specific validation requirements, a notoriously exposed apron handling phase and a lack of uniformity in GDP implementation, all of which can impact on product integrity and safety.
The need to comply with differing and overlapping GDP standards is perhaps the most intractable of these downsides: achieving consistency across multiple legal jurisdictions and transit destinations can be a very difficult task, due to a huge spread of handling infrastructure, staff training levels and standards of control.
There is even a question of variability within the EU GDP itself. The latter has been made law through the system of EU Directives, by which a legal-enactment mechanism is conceived to accelerate the adoption of laws across all 28 member states. This means that, while guidelines are uniform and centralised, the implementation of them into national law is left to the individual countries. This opens up scope for national divergences in timing, interpretation and enforcement.
In addition, commercial certification bodies, sensing opportunity, are present in the certification space, adding to the confusion and duplication.