At the moment, the United States has something of a hold on the global pharmaceutical market. In fact, it currently controls about half of that market — 45%, to be exact. There are many reasons why this is the case, for instance, the United States has the technological capabilities to manufacture pharmaceutical products on a large scale, and in a variety of different forms. Americans are also much more open to trying different medications. While some medications are created to treat physical ailments with treatments that are usually straightforward and unavoidable with the same products manufactured as needed, there is a market for more elective medications. Specifically, for mental illnesses, and treating sexual dysfunction. These two particular markets have a high demand in the United States, and as these types of medication become more acceptable in the western world, so too are they being accepted across the world.
However, the production of pharmaceutical products and how they are shipped remains largely mysterious. Medications are not only shipped to treat patients directly but there is also a need for pharmaceutical samples, which psychiatrists in particular often rely upon. Their patients often need to try certain medications for a certain amount of time before they commit to long-term prescriptions. Clearly, there is much more to the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical standards than what may initially meet the eye.
HOW ARE PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS STORED?
There are particular standards that must be adhered to when storing pharmaceutical products. Temperature controlled drug storage is complex, as many medications are particularly susceptible to extreme temperatures. While the medications you’re prescribed may easily be kept in your medicine cabinet, that in itself usually allows them to be kept at room temperature. When stored en masse, these products are more likely to overheat or chill, due to the storage locations — which are often closer to warehouses than homes. Temperature controlled drug storage must be precisely tuned, and it must stay consistent for long periods of time. It’s often up to employees to check the climates of these drugs; if the temperature is put off-kilter, an entire batch of drugs could be compromised, and would then have to be destroyed. It is paramount that if drugs are not maintained properly, they are destroyed before they can be distributed.
ARE THERE RULES FOR SHIPPING PHARMACEUTICALS?
Just as temperature controlled drug storage is key to storing pharmaceuticals prior to shipment, so too must they be carefully maintained during the delivery process. One reason why people are so concerned about shipping medications is that, if they are compromised during the delivery process it could be more difficult to catch the issues with the drugs. They could not only become expired during the delivery process but contaminated as well, which could result in people receiving harmful medications. Furthermore, all medications must be kept incredibly safe, and tamper-proof during both storage and delivery.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MEDICATIONS ARE NOT PROPERLY SAFEGUARDED?
There is more at risk when medications are not properly safeguarded than accidental contamination or premature expiration. In the past, there have been drastic consequences to drugs being unsafely maintained. Drugs can potentially be tampered with when they are not stored properly. Perhaps one of the most famous cases of medication being tampered with is the Chicago Tylenol murders. In that case, medication was either taken off the store shelves or tampered with prior to being put on the shelves — and the Tylenol capsules were laced with cyanide, resulting in the deaths of multiple people. In the following years, the packaging of the drugs was changed to make it tamper-proof. Therefore, there are much higher standards for drug safety today.
Many people rely on pharmaceuticals to live and trust that they will be properly maintained. It’s key that these storage standards are maintained. Otherwise, people could be potentially put in danger.