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LifeCell's pilot program shows promise

Reusable 'cold chain' shipper provides sustainability, economic, and customer benefits.

A pilot program is underway in which LifeCell, developer and marketer of tissue repair products for the reconstructive, orthopedic, and urogynecologic biosurgery markets, is employing reusable packaging systems from Minnesota Thermal Science.

Launched in May, the pilot program was the focus of a presentation, "Case Study: Real Life Implementation ReUsable Packaging Systems," by Scott Lansdale, LifeCell package engineering, at the 10th Anniversary Cold Chain & Temperature Management Global Forum in Chicago.

LifeCell and MTS worked together to develop the program, which uses the MTS Credo® thermal packaging system. LifeCell packs human tissues in either freeze-dried or ready-to-use formats into double foil pouches, which are then placed into a carton, with three to five cartons going into the Credo. Products are sold to hospitals and surgical centers.

The Credo is used to ship the following two LifeCell's products:

o AlloDerm® Regenerative Tissue Matrix, for use as a graft for burn patients originally, and now used in applications that include reconstructive applications, primarily in hernia, abdominal wall repair, and breast reconstruction.

o Strattice™ Reconstructive Tissue Matrix, which supports tissue regeneration by allowing rapid revascularization, cell repopulation, and white cell migration.

Lansdale explained that LifeCell and MTS had collaborated several years ago on a donor tissue project that involved successfully delivered more than 50,000 shipments without any temperature excursions. That encouraged LifeCell to again seek MTS for the pilot project.

"Sustainability is a growing trend in the medical device space and we want to be a pioneer in this area," he said. "We sought a more sustainable packaging solution and to reduce the carbon footprint for these shipments." MTS supplies software that Lansdale said involved cooperation from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

Compared to previous shipping containers, the new Credo for the pilot program is smaller and offers multiple reuses. LifeCell estimated that it would take seven to nine trips to gain an economic return on investment for the shippers. That process will continue, as most of the shippers have been used three or four times to this point, said Lansdale. One of the challenges in refurbishing the containers for reuse is to replace the outer plastic corrugated.

Lansdale said that while the pilot program has already proven successful, it is not without its "lessons learned." A primary concern, he noted, was that the company needed to better educate its sales force on the overall process so that it can better inform its customers. In some instances, customers were slow to return the containers. In general, LifeCell noted it took some 20 days for the company to receive the Credo containers back from its customers. Shipments are coordinated through Federal Express.

Record-breaking attendance

The 10th Anniversary of the show included record-breaking attendance, which was estimated at 630, with guests from at least 15 countries outside of the U.S. In his opening remarks, chairperson Rafik H. Bishara (shown in the photo here) noted the global flavor of the conference, referring to attendees, speakers, and subject matter. Bishara is the technical advisor and leader of the Pharmaceutical Cold Chain Interest Group within the Parenteral Drug Assn.

Approximately 75 companies have exhibits at the Sept. 24-28 event, including United Cargo, which offered attendees a tour of its new United Airlines Chicago O'Hare International Airport facility. For more information on the facility, see the video below.
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