HealthIndustry

Healthcare distribution: facilitating optimal access and uptake of vaccines in Europe

Vaccination is a story of success in the field of medical science. Since the first vaccine was administered over 200 years ago, vaccination has helped to reduce or even eradicate widespread infectious diseases across the globe. Vaccines nowadays prevent millions of deaths worldwide each year and significantly reduce costs for healthcare systems dealing with uninoculated diseases.

Making vaccines available on a large scale requires complex production methods, meticulous quality control and reliable distribution channels that ensure the products are potent and effective when patients receive them. Guaranteeing availability and effective delivery of the product also requires strong partnerships between manufacturers and their supply chain partners. This is where healthcare distributors make a crucial contribution to facilitating optimal access to vaccines in Europe.

Vaccine distribution: a delicate matter

The European Union puts great emphasis on supporting and strengthening the role of vaccines in European healthcare systems as one of the most cost-effective and efficient public health measures available to prevent serious diseases. The EU also applies strict rules for the approval of vaccinations to be allowed on the European market and follows up with post-authorisation surveillance of vaccinations to ensure maximum safety for patients.

This is especially important, as vaccines are delicate and sensitive medical products. They vary in stability, which means their potency and effectiveness can be altered easily by influence of environmental factors such as overheating or freezing and they naturally biodegrade over time. This may result in the failure of the vaccine to create the desired immune response and consequently provide poor protection. An essential part for many of the vaccines supplied across Europe thus is the maintenance of the so-called cold-chain, which is refrigerated transportation, between the manufacturer and the end-user.

Adding value to vaccines supply

Healthcare distributors are essential partners when it comes to the safe and efficient distribution of vaccines. Because the supply process must be robust, reliable and routinely monitored for possible deviations at all points of the value chain, with their state- of-the-art distribution systems, healthcare distributors play a crucial part in the vaccination process.

Equipped with the latest refrigeration technologies for both storage and transportation of vaccines, temperature monitoring equipment and meticulously planned, mapped, and risk- assessed transport routes according to current European regulations they support industry in getting their medicine to the right place at the right time while guaranteeing all products are kept safe and effective.

By assuming a quantity-based buffer function for healthcare providers, which means stocking vaccines under the right conditions and in sufficient quantities for their geographical area of activity, healthcare distributors can bridge bottlenecks in peak demand times and are in a unique position in the supply chain to pre-finance bulks of essential vaccination supplies that ultimately enable pharmacists and

the time spent by an individual pharmacy on ordering, receiving and processing invoices from the various manufacturers whose vaccines it buys from. With this, healthcare distributors add value to the sustainability of healthcare systems across Europe and con- tribute to a secure and stable system of supply.

Supporting confidence in vaccines

Despite the obvious positive contribution vaccines have made to European healthcare systems and the overall public health in the last decades, vaccine confidence has slowly been decreasing in popular opinion and dis- information on vaccination continued to rise across Europe.

Thus, it has become even more important for healthcare distributors to ensure end- users can trust that their supply chains work impeccably and robustly. Healthcare distributors have been stepping up to assure to their customers and patients that their con- tinuously and professionally monitored cold- chains are up to the challenge to keep vaccines safe and secure.

GIRP, the European Healthcare Distribution Association, is the umbrella organisation for pharmaceutical full-line wholesalers and distributors of healthcare products and services in Europe. It represents over 750 pharmaceutical wholesalers serving 34 European countries. GIRP members employ over 140,000 people and distribute around 15 billion packs of medicines as well as a wide range of healthcare products per year. As the vital link in healthcare, they are committed to developing and providing innovative and efficient healthcare products and services to improve health and wellbeing of patients across Europe.

physicians to focus fully on the patient and to provide superior clinical care.

Healthcare distributors also assume vital and important bundling functions of vaccines that draw together supplies from several different manufacturers into one delivery pool. This function is of high value to pharmacies as it reduces the time spent by an individual pharmacy on ordering, receiving and processing invoices from the various manufacturers whose vaccines it buys from. With this, healthcare distributors add value to the sustainability of healthcare systems across Europe and con- tribute to a secure and stable system of supply.

Supporting confidence in vaccines

Despite the obvious positive contribution vaccines have made to European healthcare systems and the overall public health in the last decades, vaccine confidence has slowly been decreasing in popular opinion and dis- information on vaccination continued to rise across Europe.

Thus, it has become even more important for healthcare distributors to ensure end- users can trust that their supply chains work impeccably and robustly. Healthcare distributors have been stepping up to assure to their customers and patients that their continuously and professionally monitored cold- chains are up to the challenge to keep vaccines safe and secure.