Canberra, Australia, 20 September 2018: Lack of guidance among health care providers and consumers with regard to appropriate action in the event of cold chain breaches (CCB), as well as its alarming consequences, is an important issue plaguing the medical field. This was the point that Dr Sam Kosari, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, stressed when interviewed regarding a recent paper he authored on ‘Power outages and refrigerated medicines: The need for better guidelines, awareness and planning.’
Currently, Dr Kosari stressed, there are no internationally-agreed upon or standard guidelines, leaving consumers and healthcare providers with no idea on what to do in case of CCB. “Manufacturers advise not to use the drugs if they are suspicious of a CCB and do not provide any further information,” he said. “However, this is a very broad recommendation, as discarding expensive drugs can have a significant negative impact on the economy side of the public health.”
Dr Kosari, aimed to bring the attention of decision-makers to key takeaways from his research, which, though limited to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), showed the lack of knowledge on the correct procedures to follow, in the event of power outages and CCB, especially among health care professionals. “While some guidelines do exist, they are not comprehensive,” he said. “Manufacturers typically provide limited stability data about their products. There is not a comprehensive instruction from pharmaceutical manufacturers about how to deal with power outages and cold chain breaches, in regard to their own pharmaceutical products. Pharma should also take the responsibility of developing, or at least contribute to developing, guidelines about CCB for their own products.”
Dr Kosari also said the knowledge gap with regard to correct procedures in the event of power outages extends to community pharmacies. “Data from our small local study showed that millions of dollars’ worth of medicines could be saved each year, if additional data regarding the stability of medicines were available to the relevant parties,” he said, pointing to pharmacies, hospitals, GP clinics and pharmaceutical wholesalers, as a few examples.
Dr Kosari stressed there is a need for expanded national and international studies to further clarify the extent of the issue and indicate where significant investments could be made, to better protect against medicine loss in the future, not only for economic reasons but also to safe-guard communities against medicine or vaccine shortages. There is a need for investment on national/international research, to conduct comprehensive testing to develop uniform guidelines, to address CCB issues,” he stressed.
Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at email@example.com