Is Pharma Certification Going to be a Must Have?

How important is the CEIV Pharma Certification really going to be for the shipping and airport handling industry?
Manyl airports which handle these lucrative products are gearing themselves for future certification. But, is the cost worth it in the end?

It goes without saying that the transport and storage of pharmaceutical products is a specialized business requiring a lot of know-how and constant training of staff involved in the supply chain.
On top of that, prices (still) being paid by the pharma industry for the transport, be it by air or ocean, of these highly sensitive cargoes, are attractive for carriers and handlers alike.

However, “nothing costs nothing.“
But, the storage and carriage of pharma products does cost a lot and being rated as a certified handler of these goods also costs money.
The idea behind IATA‘s decision to start the Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators - in short CEIV - was to create an awareness of who has to do what for those involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain.
In the meantime airport handlers and airlines seem to think that without the CEIV stamp they‘ll not be eligible or be considered worthy of being a deciding part of this chain.

Is that really the case?
The secret behind successful handling of pharma products lies with a supply chain which really works.
But, to reach that point there has to be a common understanding between all within the process as to the problems, pro‘s & con‘s faced by each individual member.
That‘s the basic reason why the CEIV programme was put into place for the pharma industry.
It can only work when the airport handling community “revolves as one“ otherwise blame will be laid at each others door when things go wrong.
The initail certification at Brussles airport was a result of the air cargo handling community actually being able to get their act together and present a concerted solution and workable supply chain.
Whether this can be copied at all other airports who are plying for certification, remains to be seen.

Facilities play a leading role
Getting to grips with the numerous rules and regulations is one thing.
Making sure that the sensitive pharma products are handled, stored and transported properly, is another.
And - that costs money.
There are still many airports which are not yet sufficiently geared towards handling what is hoped will be a future flood of pharmaceutical goods by air.
Airports such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been one of the first to gear their handling facilities in this direction.
Partly because the climatic conditions there necessitate the need for ultra-modern cooling facilities both on and off ramp, as well as the fact that basically money is no object for such investments.
But what about the rest of the supply chain at origin or destination?

Although one might think that because airfreight is the fastest way of transporting pharma goods, that this transport mode would be the obvious choice for the producers; this seems not to be the case.
A  start up boom for pharma in airfreight a couple of years back has slowly moved towards shippers preferring ocean transport as they claim that the transport by sea still gives distinct temperature controlled advantages over the airports.
This fact seems to be proven by statistics which show that pharma transport by air will only be 11 percent of the total global share  by 2018.
In the year 2000, although the volume was far less than today, it was up at almost 18 percent.
Admittedly, one can argue that filling a cool container and putting it on a ship at constant temperature is much easier than moving the same goods by air which ensures the product passing through various hands.

It is clear that the worldwide transport of pharmaceutical and other temperature controlled products will continue to rise at a fast pace.
Therefore, all the more reason for concerted efforts on the part of the air cargo handling community to really ensure that the supply chain remains tightly temperature controlled.
This needs investment on a large scale and it would be unfair to just labour the handlers and the carriers with the additional cost.
All have to put their ten cents worth in the pot.

Brussels airport, because of a tight-knit community approach, have managed it, so there is little reason as to why others cannot.

Some might consider that the CEIV certification is too much work or too expensive, but without it the pharma industry won‘t take you seriously in the future.

John Mc Donagh

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Comments: 2
  • #1

    Bill Khoury (Wednesday, 05 August 2015 11:35)


    I was interested as to whether or not BRU Airport participants are attempting to recuperate their investment, and how? Are they charging A PHARMA Fee of some sort? This seems to be the unanswered question in this puzzle!


    Bill Khoury

    V. P. Business Development
    Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean
    Consolidated Aviation Services
    Direct: (305) 722-5150
    Mobile: (786) 229-3980

  • #2

    John Mc Donagh (Wednesday, 05 August 2015 11:36)

    Interesting question indeed.
    As far as I know, no charge - at least for the time being.
    We’ll post your comments on the website and let’s see what reactions come.
    Many thanks for commenting. Hope you enjoy CFG.