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A first for the Port of Antwerp: GDP guidelines for the distribution of pharmaceutical products

Life sciences and Healthcare products require specific handling during distribution, which is laid down in the GDP (Good Distribution Practice) guidelines. Port of Antwerp has translated this for a maritime setting, making it the first port in the world to operate under the standard of the European GDP rules throughout the logistics chain.

First seaport in the world with GDP guidelines

Belgium is an important 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. GDP is a quality assurance system, meaning that the product quality of Life sciences & Healthcare products such as medicines, blood plasma, vaccines and medical equipment is guaranteed throughout the distribution process. And although this sector is primarily associated with air freight, there is an increasing demand for shipping by reefer container.

With 63,000 m² of warehouses that comply with the GDP guidelines, 8,000 plugs for reefer containers and a worldwide connectivity with more than 1000 destinations, the Port of Antwerp can play an important role in this respect. That is why Port of Antwerp has drawn up GDP guidelines for the deep sea freight and port logistics of these temperature-sensitive products. This means that the port is the first seaport in the world that can operate under European GDP rules, in all links of the logistics chain, including container terminals.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp: “Distributing billions of vaccines poses an unprecedented logistical challenge and will push the boundaries of logistics chains. As the Port of Antwerp, we are already currently working with a number of partners within the World Economic Forum to find solutions to the various problems thrown up by this huge logistics operation. Not least to reach the people in less developed countries and ensure they have access to the vaccine”.

Annick De Ridder, port alderwoman: “These GDP guidelines make reefer container transport a genuine alternative to air freight. Thanks to the strategic location of our port, the more than 1,000 permanent connections, our reefer container capacity and the expertise and know-how within our port, we can be part of the solution. We are proud to be the first port in the world to play a pioneering role in this regard, while being socially responsible. Thank you to all partners for making this possible”.

Andy Faes, Regional Manager Healthcare Vertical Europe, Expeditors: “With this initiative that was launched more than 2 years ago, the Port of Antwerp aims to ensure that there is standardisation in terms of GDP regulations at port level. This is unprecedented at the global level and will benefit the patients at the end of the logistics chain”.

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