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A Comprehensive Guide to Shipping Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals is one of the most prosperous industries in the world. One report suggests that, by 2023, the industry’s global market will exceed $1.5 trillion.

Consequently, the transportation of pharmaceuticals is also lucrative. Manufacturers must find an efficient, cost-effective way to ship medicines. This ensures that they arrive quickly and in good condition.

As you might expect, shipping pharmaceuticals isn’t as easy as handling other types of cargo. Suppliers must follow regulations to comply with federal laws and ensure the safety of their products.

At Centurion Jets, we help many clients ship pharmaceuticals worldwide safely and under the right conditions. In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about shipping pharmaceuticals. We go over key regulations and shipping methods that protect the integrity of medicines in transit. 

Pharmaceutical Transportation Regulations: Why They’re Important

Shipping pharmaceuticals isn’t as simple as using standard packaging and a standard shipping provider. It is a much more complicated, involved process. Suppliers must carefully plan every step, all the while following precautions and regulations. 

If you don’t plan and adhere to regulations, there will be severe consequences, including: 


While transporting pharmaceuticals, it’s easy to lose product. This may sound concerning, but. loss of product usually results from keeping items at incorrect temperatures, failing to control pests, theft, etc.

Being unable to sell inventory wastes resources and can lead to major profit losses. It’s up to you to choose a responsible and experienced shipping company, like Centurion Jets.


When a shipping company fails to follow regulations, the damage to pharmaceuticals is obvious. However, in some cases, the damage can go unnoticed. 

For instance, a provider may accidentally ship medicine at the wrong temperature. It is likely that the medicine is now ineffective or even dangerous. Regardless, providing patients with damaged medicine puts them at risk. 


Manufacturers have a responsibility to keep their products safe. If your negligence ends up harming a patient, you can expect to have a big lawsuit on your hands. 

So, as you can see, it’s important to comply with all regulations. In addition to protecting your inventory and reputation, it also keeps patients healthy. 

Luckily, you can take steps to ensure the safe delivery of your products. One of the most important? Using a licensed shipping provider. 

Pharmaceutical manufacturers specialize in producing medicines. Typically, they do not have the resources to handle shipping themselves. This means that they have to go through a third-party provider. 

Third-party providers should have all the required licenses. Licenses ensure that they have the right equipment and qualified employees to transport medicines correctly. By choosing a certified shipping provider, the manufacturer is also protecting its integrity. 

Centurion Jets is one example of a licensed shipping provider. We have the certifications and experience needed to transport pharmaceuticals safely. Call us today about booking!

IATA Temperature Control Regulations PDF

The IATA, which stands for the International Air Transport Association, is a global organization. It is responsible for regulating aviation security, sustainability, and efficiency. 

Considering how prominent the global pharmaceutical industry is, it’s no wonder that the IATA publishes regulations for the shipment of pharmaceuticals. 

Below, we take a look at the IATA Temperature Control Regulations. This is one of the most important documents when it comes to transporting pharmaceuticals.  


The IATA Temperature Control Regulations (TCR) PDF is a document outlining how to safely transport pharmaceuticals. It is constantly updated with the industry’s most efficient practices. Best of all, the document allows manufacturers to comply with all local and global regulations. 

Admittedly, the TCR can be quite technical. As we discuss later, a logistics partner can ensure that you and your shipping provider are fully compliant with the TCR.  


The IATA TCR is crucial for the successful shipment of pharmaceuticals. This is because of its relationship to the cold chain. 


Many types of medicines are perishable. They must be treated with care to preserve their effectiveness. If not, they will be rendered ineffective or even dangerous. This can cause serious problems for both the manufacturer and its patients. 

One of the most important parts about preserving perishable medicines is keeping them at the correct temperature.

Temperature control is especially important during transit. Manufacturers cannot ship medicines using standard methods because of the lack of temperature control. Temperatures that are even a few degrees too hot or too cold can spoil an entire shipment. 

This is where the cold chain comes in. The cold chain refers to the temperature management of perishables during shipment. If any part of the chain is “broken” (the products are exposed to incorrect temperatures), the inventory will be ruined. 


By now, you should understand the importance of keeping medicines at the right temperature during shipment. The TCR helps manufacturers and shipping providers preserve the cold chain. 

To see the exact requirements you need to meet, you should purchase your own copy of the IATA Temperature Control Regulations PDF. This will ensure you comply with all necessary regulations. 

When you get your copy, you’ll see that the TCR covers information such as:

  • What temperatures to keep certain medicines at (most pharmaceuticals ship at temperatures between 55-77 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • What kind of insulating containers to use
  • Best practices for transporting medicines to/from planes, trucks, warehouses, etc.
  • Best practices for storing medicines in warehouses

The TCR is a must-have for any manufacturer transporting pharmaceuticals. It informs you of all regulations and ensures you hold your shipping provider accountable. Best of all, it keeps your pharmaceuticals safe and in good condition. 

IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations PDF

Another important document for shipping pharmaceuticals is the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations PDF. It includes much of the same information on temperature control that the TCR covers.

The IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations PDF is a broader document as it explains how to transport all perishables (not just pharmaceuticals). You’ll find that the perishable cargo regulations will help you further protect the medicines you’re shipping.

Some of the most important information this document covers includes: 


All types of perishable goods require good hygiene during shipment. This ensures they hold and are ready for distribution. 

Some ways to ensure good hygiene include: 

  • Implementing proper cleaning and sanitizing practices
  • Having enough airflow in storage units and in between pallets
  • Using pest control services
  • Implementing mold prevention
  • Designating a separate area for damaged products

Manufacturers and suppliers should practice good hygiene every step of the process, such as in transit and in warehouses. This will prevent animal infestations, mold growth, and other types of contamination. 


When it comes to shipping perishable goods, inspections are standard. Certified professionals should inspect inventory throughout the shipping process. 

Regular inspections achieve a few things. For one, they ensure that no product was lost. They also ensure that there is no contamination or damage. 

Inspection teams should carefully document each inspection. These records are crucial as it shows that you are taking responsibility for the safety of your products. If regulatory agencies were to question your handling of the products, inspection records are good to have on hand. 

IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations PDF provides guidelines of how/when/how often to conduct inspections. Refer to the PDF for guidelines relevant to your specific shipments.  


Managing the shipment of perishable goods is a big responsibility that shouldn’t be left to just anyone. Only certified professionals should be involved in the process. This ensures that all regulations (including temperature control practices) are followed. As long as you work with certified professionals, you can expect your products to arrive in good shape. 

Proper Equipment

Throughout the shipment process, you should have access to the proper equipment. The proper equipment will protect pharmaceuticals from the elements. They will be safe from improper temperatures, pests, mold, external damage, theft, etc. thanks to equipment such as insulated reefers, machines for safely and efficiently lifting pallets, etc. 

Even the material of the pallets you use is important. RFID-enabled plastic pallets, for instance, offer many advantages for pharmaceutical shipments. They are easy to clean and promote good hygiene. And, their use of embedded RFID tags makes inventory easy to track.

Additionally, RFID-enabled plastic pallets are compatible with temperature control regulations. They are also good for preventing product damage as they are free of jagged edges.  

IATA Cargo Guidelines

The IATA also has additional guidelines when it comes to managing shipments. See below for the best practices when it comes to transporting your pharmaceuticals:

Preventing Theft

Of course, you have to comply with regulations when it comes to labeling your products. However, there are ways to wisely approach labeling so you can deter theft.

The IATA requires that you label all individual medicine containers within a shipment. This way, the recipient will know exactly what products they are receiving. Medical providers can protect themselves by ensuring that they distribute the right medicine. This practice will also protect sick patients who require a specific type of pharmaceutical product. 

There are no ways around labeling every individual product. In most cases, however, you do not need to label the larger package that your products are being shipped in. If a potential thief notices unmarked boxes, they will most likely look for another marked shipment that they know the contents of. 

You can also prevent theft by having good security in place. Hire armed guards and ensure they go through a rigorous training program. Have all employees, no matter which part of the distribution process they handle, undergo thorough background checks. This way, you can prevent any internal theft, which is often very avoidable when you hire the right team.  

To further prevent theft, you should also secure all storage facilities from unauthorized entry. This will limit the people who have contact with your product and protect your inventory from malicious intent. 

A final way to deter theft is to equip all of your facilities with a reliable security system. This security system should offer dependable protection against theft. It should also create diversions if someone with malicious intent attempts to steal your product. 

Ensuring Quality

As a pharmaceutical shipper, you shouldn’t just worry about getting your drugs from point A to point B. They should arrive in good condition and be ready to consume by patients who need them.

One way to do this is to examine each outgoing shipment. During this examination, you should determine the identity of the prescription drug. You should also ensure that your products haven’t been held in improper conditions or damaged while in storage. 

While it may be frustrating to return some of your products, any damaged containers need to be physically separated from the remainder of a shipment. Drugs that are classified as damaged need to be destroyed or returned to a supplier. This damage includes but isn’t limited to deterioration and adulteration.

Pharma Aero

This guide serves as a good starting point for those looking to ship pharmaceuticals. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the process is quite involved. 

A lot can go wrong if it’s not approached quickly. As a supplier, you may lose money due to damaged product or inefficient delivery methods.

This is why it’s helpful to have a logistics partner. A good logistics partner will: 

Reduce Waste

Nothing will cut into your bottom line more than unnecessary waste. Even if all of your product is manufactured seamlessly, getting it to its final destination is a different story. 

A good logistics partner like Pharma Aero will help you plan your shipments to minimize waste. Some of the things that Pharma Aero can prevent during the shipping process include:

  • Too much empty space in your packaging
  • Not enough cushioning material
  • Humidity and water damage
  • Careless or otherwise improper handling
  • Infestation

Even though “theft” isn’t technically considered damage, it can still cut into your profit. By efficiently planning for the shipment of your products, Pharma Aero can help your company avoid high replacement costs incurred by theft. 

Manage Your Inventory

Pharma Aero can help your company ship the right amount of medicine to pharmacies and hospitals. This will ensure that you don’t have too much product leftover. If you have too much product leftover in storage, it can expire. This wastefulness will dig into your profits and prevent medicine from going to people who need it. 

A good logistics partner can also prevent your company from experiencing shortages. Not being able to provide your clients with the medicines they need would be detrimental to your business’s image and financial success. 
Along the way, Pharma Aero will help your business plan its shipments so that it complies with regulations. Regulations may vary from region to region, so staying on top of the different rules is very important. 

Pharma Aero will also put you in touch with reliable shipping providers and warehouses. This way, you can efficiently move inventory and store products as they are waiting to go out. 

Depending on the specific products you distribute, Pharma Aero will implement the proper precautions to ensure your inventory is handled properly. 

Plan Efficient Routes

Pharma Aero is responsible for representing and developing major pharma air routes. These routes are global, so they can help you get your product to exactly where it needs to go. This logistics partner will help you plan the most cost-effective and practical routes.

Share Market Knowledge

Pharma Aero is not interested in harvesting all of its secrets. This logistics partner’s goal is to share market knowledge with the companies it works with. It will share industry expertise with you and educate you on the best practices to implement. 

Encourage Collaboration

Even though your pharmaceutical company is trying to outperform its competitors, you can’t completely ignore your competition. 

Pharma Aero helps you and your company connect with others in the industry. It does this by putting together both local and regional workshops, fora, and network events. Pharma Aero organizes these functions to share different contacts and collaborate with others.

Being involved in the pharmaceutical community is essential to your company’s success, and a good logistics partner will understand this. Through active participation, you’ll be able to learn about the most effective shipping methods and how to maximize your business’s profit. 

A good logistics partner like Pharma Aero will help you coordinate all of your shipments. This will reduce waste and get products to people when they need them the most. By partnering with a logistics partner, you will maximize customer satisfaction and make the most of your company’s resources. 

Temperature Controlled Pharmaceutical Air Freight
Temperature Controlled Aircraft and Airfreight
Temperature Controlled Air Freight Containers

Ready to Ship Your Pharmaceuticals? 

We hope this comprehensive guide helps you better understand the nature of shipping pharmaceuticals. While shipping pharmaceuticals might sound risky and complex, it is crucial for ensuring the safety of your products! 

You can guarantee the safety of your shipment by choosing Centurion Jets. We have years of experience helping clients get medicine to customers worldwide. Call today to learn more about shipping your products with us and booking now!