Cargolux global product manager Healthcare and Perishables Stavros Evangelakakis
“By flying these products to areas where they are needed, Cargolux contributes to the accessibility of pharmaceuticals and ultimately, the improvement of global healthcare.”
In a series of articles on technology in the health sector, talking to an airline may not be the first idea that comes to mind. However, in an interview with Delano, Stavros Evangelakakis, Cargolux global product manager Healthcare and Perishables, explained how the carrier is doing its part in using technology to improve access to healthcare across the globe.
On 30 March 2018, Cargolux announced that had renewed its GDP (Good Distribution Practices) certification following the successful completion of its GDP surveillance audit, explaining that, “GDP ensures best practice policies are upheld in the handling and transportation of sensitive cargo.” The sensitive cargo referred to is medication for human use that requires very specific conditions for transportation.
Evangelakakis began by explaining what GDP certification is and why it was important for Cargolux to achieve it.
“Back in 2013, the Luxembourg government initiated an innovative project to make Luxembourg the first logistics hub to be fully GDP certified, covering all relevant logistics stakeholders from the airline, ground handler and road feeder service to the freight forwarder. So, it was a natural step for Cargolux to be GDP certified as it helps the organisation to comply with the regulations of transporting pharmaceuticals, which is one of Cargolux’s main products.”
According to Evangelakakis, GDP guidelines support the industry with relevant tools to manage the increasing complexity of transporting medicinal products and, specifically, to prevent falsified medicines from entering the legal supply chain.
“Maintaining the quality and the integrity of medicinal products is the primary focus and is controlled by activities consisting of procuring, handling, and transporting medicinal products,” he explained.
The guidelines were integrated into Cargolux standards, procedures and processes in 2014 when it became the world’s first GDP certified airline.
GDP certification requires a yearly surveillance audit and every three years a full re-audit by an independent recognised certification company to ensure best practices are upheld.
“This entails, for example, that the required storage conditions for medicinal products are maintained throughout the transportation process in line with the manufacturers’ product requirements," said Evangelakakis, adding, “The GDP guidelines enable the entire supply chain to have a common understanding of what is needed to transport and store these products.”
So, what exactly does Cargolux carry?
“Goods vary from diagnostic and pharmaceutical products to biotech. While the main commercial exchanges for these products are between Europe and North America, we see an increasing demand out of Asia and the Middle East.”
Evangelakakis also discussed Luxembourg’s unique advantages for this type of shipping, saying, “Luxembourg and its unique location allows for limited tarmac time which is a great asset, and very much appreciated by our customers. Further, the expedited safe turn around ground time means Cargolux is able to considerably reduce the exposure of pharma shipments to ambient temperature.”
He added, however, that, “GDP certification is a distinct advantage in the industry but Cargolux’s global network also includes airports where it remains challenging to handle such sensitive products.”
Evangelakakis concluded the interview summing up how the airline improves access to healthcare, “By flying these products to areas where they are needed, Cargolux contributes to the accessibility of pharmaceuticals and ultimately, the improvement of global healthcare.” He warned, however, that, “Once these products are customs-cleared, the last portion of the transport chain may still be challenging in certain areas of the world.”