How to send medical samples and medicines by courier?

All medical supplies and selected medicines require special care during transport. The key is to keep the right temperature, usually quite low. However, protection against violent shocks and vibrations is also important as they can also be harmful to medicines and medical preparations. The last, often most important factor is time: the shorter the better. You can influence the speed of delivery. However, even the best packaging and labelling of packages will not mitigate the risk of shocks or incorrect temperature. What to do in this situation?

If you want your materials and medicines to arrive in good condition, you should use special courier services for medical supplies.

What is a cold chain?

In order not to make the explanation too complicated, it is enough to say that a cold chain ensures a low temperature-controlled shipment. This is necessary for the transport of perishable goods, including primarily unprocessed food (fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products) and all types of medical samples.

For medical shipments, both a regime of precisely selected and maintained temperature level and speedy delivery are important. Suffice to say that a heart for transplant can travel no more than 4 hours, lungs must be delivered in less than 6 hours, and a liver is useful for transplant within 10 hours. Kidneys are the toughest – they can travel up to 36 hours. Body fluids (blood, plasma and their derivatives) are the easiest to transport. The third condition to be fulfilled when transporting organs and body fluids is to avoid sudden movements, bumps or shocks.

When deciding on a supplier, you can choose to order a service from a company specialising in the shipment of medical supplies or from one of the large couriers. Such services for the medical industry are available for example at TNT (currently part of the FedEx group), DHL or UPS. They offer express shipment of clinical samples, body fluids, medicines and documents.

How to pack medical samples and medicine for shipment?

Using the cold chain packaging services of courier companies can guarantee the continuity of the cold chain. The courier company not only ensures transport in appropriate conditions, but also provides refrigerated containers, control devices and ongoing monitoring of the conditions inside the package and its surroundings.

Proper packaging of the goods for shipment and providing detailed information on required temperature and humidity, shock sensitivity and transport time remain the customer’s responsibility. The guidelines for the packaging of medical materials are specified in separate regulations. The courier’s task is to ensure the transport conditions are as agreed with the customer. At the same time, courier companies must protect their employees against the consequences of potential damage to containers with biological material, which may contain e.g. pathogens.

Why you shouldn’t recklessly send medicine

The transport of medicines is subject to some restrictions. So, you should not only know the required packaging method, but also possess some knowledge of the regulations on  trading in medicines. When preparing the dispatch of medicines, you should read the terms and conditions of transport of the selected courier company: medicines may be on the list of prohibited goods. If you ship the medicines and do not include any information about it on the consignment note, you may face unpleasant consequences. Especially if your shipment contains a large number of medications or other preparations containing psychoactive substances.

You should pay special attention to the type of medicines you send abroad, as different countries may have different restrictions regulating the shipping and receipt of medicines and chemicals. You should also remember that if some dietary supplements, or all substances of unknown origin, in particular the so-called legal highs, are found in your shipment, you can be challenged by the law enforcement authorities. If you want to send medicine safely, you’d better discuss this with the courier company first.