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Transportation of drugs: what are the 3 functions of an insulated packaging solution?

23 December 2015

Drugs are placed in a primary packaging and in a single or multiple secondary packaging. The primary packaging refers to the drug box, which represents a source of information for patients. The secondary packaging is for packaging and transportation purposes. In the case where drugs must be transported under a certain temperature to guarantee their integrity, the pharmaceutical industry uses cold chain thermal packages (containers, boxes or pouches).

What are the 3 functions of an insulated packaging solution?

Temperature-controlled packaging solution, cold chain transportation of health products, pharmaceutical logistics
The insulated packaging solutions protect drugs from external temperatures during transportation

Protecting the drugs from external temperatures


The primary purpose of insulated packaging is to keep drugs within the specified temperature range in order to guarantee their integrity, hence all the therapeutic properties.

Insulated packages can keep products cool, under +2/+8°C, frozen (-18/-20°C) or at "so-called" room-temperature, under +15/+25°C.

Regardless of the external temperature, the purpose of the insulated packaging is to guarantee a stable temperature to keep products –in such a case, drugs– at the same temperature for the entire duration of transportation. As it is extremely dangerous for a heat-sensitive drug to be frozen, the packaging solution serves to protect both from the cold and the heat.

This is problem-free when completed in France where temperature variations are not huge. On the contrary, it is a very different story on the international scene where the packaging solution may pass through geographic areas which experience extreme temperature variations. For example, a packaging solution may be sent from Brazil where the temperature is 28°C to be delivered to Russia where the temperature is -8°C.


Protecting the health of patients


Heat-sensitive drugs help treat patients: cold chain transportation is therefore essential. If drugs are not kept as per correct temperature conditions, they become less effective, and at worse, toxic. These drugs are a support for the therapeutic treatment of patients. Packaging solutions must be reliable as the health of the patient relies on it.

Insulated solutions for health products, protection for heat-sensitive pharmaceutical treatments, refrigerated transportation of drugs
The importance of upholding cold chain transportation of pharmaceutical products for patients

Transported drugs within insulated packaging solutions feature drugs based on living cells: vaccines, insulin, anticancer drugs... They represent the results of many years of pharmaceutical research and are therefore expensive. They offer particularly effective targeted therapy. They are fragile drugs which require specific precautions during storage and transportation stages, right up to the time they are administered to patients.

Protecting against impact


Polyurethane is a very effective thermal insulating material and it also protects drugs from impact to which boxes could be subjected during transportation. We also use polypropylene, a very strong material with high impact resistance, in addition to plastic for increased resistance to impact. Our iBox container includes a flight-case: an aluminium box with plastic, alveolar panels, which is extremely resistant to impact. 

For optimal protection, the box must be completely filled. This also enables the cold air to correctly diffuse around the entire box.


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