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The effectiveness of insulated pouches: debate and solutions

11 December 2014

At the 3rd Seminar on the Cold Chain for Healthcare Products in November 2012, Mr Jean-Pierre Paccioni, Chairman of Section B of the French National Council of the Order of Pharmacists drew attention to the inefficiency of the insulated packaging solutions distributed to patients. Let us consider this market and the prospects for the future. 

Cooling and insulated pouch, cold chain packaging solutions, transport of drugs, vaccines and insulin products for the last miles.

Transporting heat-sensitive healthcare products: the challenges are significant!

8 to 10 million insulated pouches are sold every year in France. They are intended for the local transportation of small quantities of heat-sensitive healthcare products. In the main, these products are vaccines and insulin, transported from the pharmacy to the patients’ homes or over very short distances.

The challenges of these local deliveries are considerable. In fact, a sensitive medical preparation can reach temperatures in excess of +8 °C in less than 5 minutes at ambient temperature, without necessarily being detectable on the product. In the best case scenario, the product becomes ineffective and, in the worst case, it may become toxic!

Insulated pouches: the present situation

The most frequently used cooling pouches are made from white or aluminised polyester. They protect the medicinal product over a limited period of time and they have the benefit of being relatively inexpensive.

However, the main disadvantage is that their effective duration is often only a few minutes, which leaves little room for manoeuvre for the patient. Indeed, the patient has to keep in mind that, although the product is protected by an insulated pouch, it must be placed inside a refrigerator without delay!

Finally, while these types of pouch are re-usable, their capacity for re-use is very limited in terms of safeguarding the performance and reliability of the product.

It is a fact that the quality and performance of cold chain thermal packaging solutions used for the delivery of medicines vary significantly and they do not satisfy any precise set of specifications. This problem has been highlighted for many years by the manufacturers of packaging solutions.

Introduction to the market of more efficient insulated packaging solutions

Sofrigam has, therefore, invested in the creation of the Certicold Pharma label, as a guarantee of the quality and performance of temperature-controlled packaging solutions and all the cold storage equipment used for transporting healthcare products.

In addition, in June 2014 this label was awarded to the Nomad Slim insulated cover! This solution revolutionises the market. Made entirely of fabric, it can be re-used more than one hundred times and its thermal performance properties ensure that it is suitable for use by patients, in summer as well as in winter.

Insulated packaging solution for the transport of pharmaceutical and healthcare cold chain products.

However, we are now working on another design for an insulated pouch which satisfies the requirements of the Council of the Order, as well as pharmacists and patients.

The requirements of the Council of the Order:

  • To have access to a suitable insulated packaging system featuring a sustained duration of at least half-an-hour at strict temperatures of between +2 and +8 °C

The needs of the pharmacists:

  • A single method of preparation, at +5 °C, in any season of the year
  • A pouch at an affordable price (only a few euros)
  • A pouch that can accommodate heat-sensitive products of any size

The wishes of patients:

  • A method of preparation that is accessible to everyone

This project is a real challenge. We have been working on it for several months. It is due to be launched during the first semester of 2015!

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