Editorial: Human health and the supply chain

by Array


During a previous professional incarnation I worked as an editor and writer at a large research and teaching hospital in Toronto. One of the most satisfying and reassuring aspects of the job was the opportunity, every so often, to glimpse how the treatments patients received helped transform their lives from illness to health. In more than a few instances, those treatments played a role in saving a patient’s life.

In no small part, pharmaceuticals and medical devices played a role in how those patients were cared for at the hospital. Although I suspect patients rarely thought about it, nurses, doctors and other medical staff knew the importance of getting products on time and in the best condition possible.

Those who work in the supply chain also understand the importance of getting medical products (or anything, for that matter) where they’re needed, on time. Our cover story on UPS’s Burlington campus (see page 14) describes the facility’s distribution of pharmaceuticals, vaccines and non-drug medical supplies—not to mention commercial products. Of note are the security measures in place at the campus. The DC is fully fenced in, with a security guard on site at all hours. Swipe access is required for each area of the facility and employees can access only those areas they need to for their work.

Vaults that store high-value or high-risk products like narcotics have concrete floors three feet thick. They are equipped with tremor sensors in case someone is foolish enough to try breeching the vault by, say, driving a vehicle into it. Health Canada classifies the vaults as Level 10, the highest level possible for such a facility.

The auditing process at the facility is also thorough. Health Canada, clients and UPS itself are involved in ensuring the campus is operating as securely and safely as possible. Reg Sheen, vice-president of operations, logistics services, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, notes the facility is likely “one of the most audited organizations anywhere.”

Security of goods within the supply chain is important, and knowing where goods are and when they’ll arrive is crucial for everyone involved. When human health might be affected, security becomes an even more pressing priority. It’s not front-line healthcare, but it helps ensure that care remains as effective as possible.