Port of Antwerp-Bruges first port to introduce GDP certificate for distribution of pharmaceuticals. Photo by Port of Antwerp
The distribution of pharmaceutical products requires specific handling. This method is defined in the GDP (Good Distribution Practice) guidelines. Port of Antwerp-Bruges was the first seaport in the world to translate these rules into the maritime sphere in order to operate in accordance with these European GDP rules throughout the logistics chain. The guidelines have also now been officially recorded in a certificate issued by SGS, which was presented to pharmaceutical industry professionals during a tour of the port yesterday.
GDP guidelines now enshrined in certificate
Domestic and foreign stakeholders from the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector gathered in Antwerp yesterday for a behind-the-scenes look at the distribution process for pharmaceutical products at the port. During a tour of the individual steps of operations, from the security checks to the loading process, they saw how Port of Antwerp-Bruges had become the world’s first maritime GDP port. This means that all links of the logistics chain, including the container terminals, can operate according to the standard for European Good Distribution Practices (GDP) rules. GDP is a quality assurance system. This is how the quality of products such as medicines, blood plasma, vaccines and medical equipment passing through the port is maintained during the distribution process. Moreover, the visit from the pharmaceutical professionals was the perfect opportunity to announce that these GDP rules are now also enshrined in an official certificate.
The basis of the certificate is the guidelines previously issued by Port of Antwerp-Bruges for deep-sea cargo and port logistics of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products. These are based on global WHO standards, with a specific focus on Europe and a translation to the maritime sector. The certificate is issued by SGS, an internationally renowned certification organisation for the pharmaceutical sector. Operational companies such as terminal operators and shipping companies can apply for the certification, demonstrating that they value quality in every aspect of their service provision.
Rising demand for shipping by reefer container
Belgium is a major hub for the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector, and many multinationals have their offices here. 1 in 6 medicines exported from Europe set off from Belgium, and half of these medicines are produced here. Owing to cost and sustainability, there is increasing demand for shipping by reefer instead of air freight. With 63,000m² of GDP-compliant warehouses and 9500 plugs for reefers, the port platforms in Antwerp and Zeebrugge can play an important role here.
Source: Port of Antwerp
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