While guidelines for proper warehousing for any industry means that products should be available, accessible and in good condition, pharmaceutical distribution centers must be extra diligent. Not only does a pharmaceuticals distribution center (DC) have to deal with usual challenges like inventory and personnel issues, but it also has to comply with strict DEA and FDA regulations. "We're not just shipping pens and pencils," said Scott Thorpe, Express Scripts operations manager. "The products we ship save lives."
Storage areas should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Employees should never have food, drink, gum or tobacco near the products. Some DCs have strict policies about food and drink kept out of the warehouse entirely. Racks, picking locations and staging areas should be kept free of debris.
Store supplies in a dry, well-lit and well-ventilated area that is out of direct sunlight. Keep any flammable or aerosol products in areas far away from other inventory.
Storage cases should have appropriate clearance from the floor, and should be easily accessible.
Keep written and electronic records of every pallet and case that enters your facility. Many DCs have moved to using handheld RF scanners to track employee activity, productivity, and for inventory control purposes.
Make sure employees check expiration dates and rotate stock to ensure that the products that were received first are shipped first.
Keep controlled substances secure. Every step of the warehouse process from unloading and receiving to staging and put-away should be well-regulated. Many pharmaceuticals DCs store controlled substances in cages and vaults, with DEA schedule 2 drugs kept in the vault, and schedule 3 kept in the cage. Only authorized employees should be allowed access to the cage or vault, and those authorized employees should be well-trained in the proper documentation and filing of paperwork.