Company insight

Container technology for safeguarding drugs

Cold storage units are fundamental to the modern, globalised drug industry. But without the right technology, drugs risk going bad before they can reach patients. World Pharmaceutical Frontiers speaks to Layland Barker, managing director at Titan Containers, about how his company uses technology to keep packages secure and how Covid-19 offers new opportunities.

old chain is an increasingly fundamental part of medical life. With the global industry predicted to reach $16.9bn by 2024, the safe movement of sensitive medications would be impossible without it – and that was before Covid-19 made things even more urgent. But without the right storage equipment, medical logistics are at risk of collapsing, medicines lose their efficacy, or else, get shippers and suppliers into hot legal water. Find the right partners and the right technology, though, and logistics companies can ensure that they get drugs to the patients who need them every time.


moved decisively into the next stage of the fight: vaccines. “We’ve already started to have inquiries from the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.” This is unsurprising as, after all, Titan’s ArcticStore cold stores are already some of the most reliable units on the market and can keep medications between +45°C and −70°C. Even better, continues Barker, Titan’s containers are lavishly equipped with all kinds of other gadgetry. “We give customers the ability to monitor the control and monitor the compliance remotely,” he explains. “You can sit in your lounge, watching the football and keep an eye on what your container is doing in the factory using your iPad. Provided

“We give customers the ability to monitor the control and monitor the compliance remotely. You can sit in your lounge, watching the football and keep an eye on what your container is doing in the factory using your iPad.”

If anyone knows the importance of the medical cold chain, it’s Titan Containers. Founded back in 1987, and now boasting dozens of offices across six continents, it’s the largest refrigerated storage container supplier on earth. No wonder, then, that the company has been so busy over the past few months. “Covid-19 has been a journey for us,” says Layland Barker, Titan’s managing director. That began with storing test material, Barker explains, and quickly moved on to storing blood plasma – a potentially transformative weapon in the fight against the disease.

Because the plasma is taken from people who’ve already had Covid-19, Barker says, it could contain “beneficial” antibodies. Even more excitingly, though, Titan has

there’s an internet connection, we offer real-time data monitoring.” Given how strict regulations are around storing and transporting medication, technology like this is a godsend to logistics managers and patients the world over. Not that Barker is happy to rest on his laurels. The new challenges of Covid-19 have given his team a chance to re-evaluate, exploiting decades of know-how to build something new to fit the current crisis. Because of the robust storage demands of potential vaccines, for example, Titan is already building units with better insulation. “We’ve got the internal temperature as low as a constant -75.5°C (return air temperature),” Barker says.

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“This container meets the needs for reliable -70°C storage of the Pfizer BioNTek vaccine. The other vaccines need the more normal temperature range supplied by our standard ArcticStore combination.”

Comes with the territory Of course, none of this is easy. “Like everything else,” Barker admits, “when you change the criteria, you run into problems. For example, we’ve had to find some alternative materials that don’t shrink in extreme temperatures.” All the same, you get the sense that Barker is clearly aware of the responsibility on his shoulders to deliver a storage container that works. As he correctly notes, that comes with the territory when most medications don’t have a very long shelf life and are normally extremely valuable to boot. Though Covid- 19 vaccines are understandably his focus right now, Barker says that the robust new equipment Titan is developing right now should serve his company – and the industry at large – far into the future. “It will lead, inevitably, to a serious growth in our abilities to service people that need very low and awkward temperatures. And as a result, I suspect that actually the pharma industry’s eyes will be open to the many other opportunities our products bring.” After so much experience – and a steadfast commitment to keeping prices fair, even in the face of exploding demand – that feels like a just reward. Covid-19 may have made life more difficult for everyone, but with partners like Layland Barker and Titan Containers by one’s side, the struggles of the next few months should be considerably easier. ● 39

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