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Late last month the FDA CBER (Consumer Affairs Branch) issued an advisor notice to interested persons containing information related to the storage and use of temperature sensitive biological products that have been involved in a temporary electrical power failure, or flood conditions.

It states: "While people should not be put at risk by using a product that may be unsafe due to the conditions under which it was stored, shortages should not be created by discarding product simply because of power failures that may not adversely affect the product".

It continues: "Vials of Biological products in contact with flood waters should be discarded given the possibility of contamination and the likelihood of significant exposure to temperatures outside of those recommended for cold chain storage".

The CDC and the FDA both recommend that any refrigerated storage unit that stores biological products and/or vaccines has a back-up power source and a temperature recording device that will provide a record of any temperature excursions that may have occurred due to severe weather power losses, or power losses caused by an equipment failure. Using suitable temperature monitoring devices will add a level of risk aversion, plus provide actual condition reassurance as it will be possible to see if any of the stored, or exposed, products have experienced any excursions outside of the recommended limits.

A general rule in any cold chain logistics operation is that it is far more cost effective and safer to include a temperature monitoring device with each cold chain shipment rather than face the cost of a shipment that needs to scrapped, or to run the added risk of potentially impacting a patient's health.

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Peter Norton is a senior logistics and supply chain manager who is a consultant hired by clients in both the life science industry, and the food supply industry. Peter has extensive experience in both the domestic US and global markets specifically in the areas of cold chain management and security as this relates to the pharmaceutical industry to insure drugs that are supplied to the patient are at the required stability levels and peak efficacy.

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