Choosing a 3PL provider qualified for pharmaceutical supply chain management can enable drug developers to realize significant financial returns. Profitability is positively impacted by leveraging the best practices of a pharma industry 3PL / 4PL partner in the following ways:

  • Just In Time (JIT) inventory levels resulting from greater visibility into the stored materials
  • Streamlined supply chain processes that result in decreased operational costs
  • Tighter control and better documentation resulting in a reduced risk of fines and product recalls
  • Increased customer confidence resulting in brand loyalty and higher margins
  • Enhanced focus on core business competencies resulting in greater efficiencies.

Whether one is in the process of selecting a new 3PL / 4PL provider or evaluating existing supply chain partners, there are several critical areas you need to assess:


Ensure that the vendor-partner you are evaluating has pharmaceutical industry expertise in all aspects of Good Distribution Practices (GDP) and complies with international regulations surrounding supply chain practices, including Russian Requirements for Wholesale Distribution of Pharmaceutical Products, Executive Order No. 2284-/06 of Russia Federal Service on Surveillance in Healthcare and Social Development "Roszdravnadzor" updated October 9, 2006.

It is important to verify that 3PL / 4PL provider holds the appropriate local, state and federal licenses and accreditations to safely and securely handle and transport regulated drug products.  A 3PL / 4PL party must demonstrate it is abiding by the most stringent industry regulations and implementing best practices as defined by several industry stakeholders including state and federal regulators, pharmacists, manufacturers and wholesale distributors.

To earn this license, Time Service has undergone extensive compliance reviews by the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russian Federation across multiple facets of operations including licensure verification, facility inspection, and personnel and company background checks.

Inventory Management Systems

Inventory management systems are another critical component to evaluate when selecting a 3PL / 4PL partner. Due to increasingly stringent industry regulations, it is more important than ever those vendors utilize advanced tracking systems that document the drug's entire chain of custody as well as provide real-time, on-demand access to inventory records, product temperature history during transport, audit trails and product handling, including materials' arrivals and departures. State (as well as federal) legislation specifically outlines what information needs to be tracked and carried along with the history of the drug.

Technology Infrastructure

A 3PL / 4PL that utilizes inventory-based bar coding (or RFID) will offer greater efficiencies and product tracking accuracy as compared to providers that do not implement these types of technologies. For example, these systems automatically scan labels and electronically store the information without manually entering data, a process that can lead to errors. RFID is superior to bar coding because it does not require line-of-sight scanning, allowing inventory levels to be calculated in real time and virtually eliminating drug counterfeiting. Sophisticated logistics and product tracking technologies such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and document management systems are extremely useful in creating operational efficiencies. 3PL / 4PL providers with these technologies are better equipped to provide a complete history of the handling, status, transfer and overall management of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products. Additionally, 3PL / 4PLs should be evaluated on overall strength of their IT infrastructure. Minimally, a firm should have redundant servers with a solid data backup strategy.

Cold Chain Facility

In order to store and distribute biopharmaceutical products, a 3PL / 4PL's storage facilities must be specifically constructed to support the cold chain. Additionally, facilities should be compliant with applicable State and federal regulations and be licensed under the applicable Laws, as well as guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russian Federation and Roszdravnadzor (Russia Federal Service on Surveillance in Healthcare and Social Development). To ensure that products are protected against extended power outages, buildings should be wired with backup electricity from different power grids and linked to additional, independent backup power sources (such as a diesel-fueled generator). A pharmaceutical storage facility with a Highly Protected Risk (HPR) designation must offer further safeguards for drug products and materials. HPR signifies that the facility meets higher-than-average safety standards and complies with the industry's most-stringent level of risk protection.

Security Protocols

A 3PL / 4PL with a focus on pharmaceutical and biotechnology supply chain management will have comprehensive security procedures and systems in place to protect drug products

  • Documented hiring processes: Stringent background checks and drug screening of all employees
  • Physical security systems: Controlled facility access (card entry, biometrics, etc), validated alarm systems (door/window contacts, motion sensors, sound monitoring, etc), closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance and facility perimeter fencing
  • Advanced freezer and refrigeration systems: Sophisticated temperature monitoring systems that include alarms in case equipment falls outside acceptable temperature ranges
  • Fire protection: Smoke detection and fire suppression systems
  • Redundancy for critical systems: Backup measures for power, cooling, data storage, temperature, etc.

Trained Personnel

An ideal 3PL / 4PL will retain employees trained not only in the business of logistics, distribution and shipping, but also pharmaceutical and biotechnology supply chain management. This is a specialty that requires extensive experience and knowledge of current industry regulations and best practices. Operating a 24/7 pharmaceutical and biotechnology supply chain requires a team with diverse functional expertise in cold chain storage and logistics, quality assurance, commissioning, qualification and validation, pharmaceutical packaging and kitting development services. Dedicated, qualified personnel must be available to calibrate, validate, maintain and test all critical systems to ensure they are working properly even in the event of power loss, emergency situation and/or security risk.


The Company shall adopt rules to implement these tasks as necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Such rules shall include, but not be limited to, requirements for the storage and handling of prescription drugs and for the establishment and maintenance of prescription drug distribution records.


An establishment, at which prescription drugs are stored, warehoused, handled, held, offered, marketed, or displayed must:

(a) Be of suitable size and construction to facilitate cleaning, maintenance, and proper operations;

(b) Have storage areas designed to provide adequate lighting, ventilation, temperature, sanitation, humidity, space, equipment, and security conditions;

(c) Have a quarantine area for storage of prescription drugs that are outdated, damaged, deteriorated, misbranded, or adulterated, or that are in immediate or sealed, secondary containers that have been opened;

(d) Be maintained in a clean and orderly condition; and

(e) Be free from infestation by insects, rodents, birds, or vermin of any kind.


(a) An establishment that is used for wholesale drug distribution must be secure from unauthorized entry.

1. Access from outside the premises must be kept to a minimum and be well-controlled.

2. The outside perimeter of the premises must be well-lighted.

3. Entry into areas where prescription drugs are held must be limited to authorized personnel.

(b) An establishment that is used for wholesale drug distribution must be equipped with:

1. An alarm system to detect entry after hours; however, the department may exempt by rule establishments that only hold a permit as prescription drug wholesale distributor-brokers and establishments that only handle medical oxygen; and

2. A security system that will provide suitable protection against theft and diversion. When appropriate, the security system must provide protection against theft or diversion that is facilitated or hidden by tampering with computers or electronic records.

(c) Any vehicle that contains prescription drugs must be secure from unauthorized access to the prescription drugs in the vehicle.


All prescription drugs shall be stored at appropriate temperatures and under appropriate conditions in accordance with requirements, if any, in the labeling of such drugs, or with requirements in the official compendium.

(a) If no storage requirements are established for a prescription drug, the drug may be held at "controlled" room temperature, as defined in the official compendium, to help ensure that its identity, strength, quality, and purity are not adversely affected.

(b) Appropriate manual, electromechanical, or electronic temperature and humidity recording equipment, devices, or logs must be used to document proper storage of prescription drugs.

(c) The recordkeeping requirements in subsection (6) must be followed for all stored prescription drugs.


(a) Upon receipt, each outside shipping container must be visually examined for identity and to prevent the acceptance of contaminated prescription drugs that are otherwise unfit for distribution. This examination must be adequate to reveal container damage that would suggest possible contamination or other damage to the contents.

(b) Each outgoing shipment must be carefully inspected for identity of the prescription drug products and to ensure that there is no delivery of prescription drugs that have expired or been damaged in storage or held under improper conditions.

(c) The recordkeeping requirements in subsection (6) must be followed for all incoming and outgoing prescription drugs.

(d) Upon receipt, a wholesale distributor must review records required under this section for the acquisition of prescription drugs for accuracy and completeness, considering the total facts and circumstances surrounding the transactions and the wholesale distributors involved. This includes authenticating each transaction listed on a pedigree paper.


(a)1. Prescription drugs that are outdated, damaged, deteriorated, misbranded, or adulterated must be quarantined and physically separated from other prescription drugs until they are destroyed or returned to their supplier. A quarantine section must be separate and apart from other sections where prescription drugs are stored so that prescription drugs in this section are not confused with usable prescription drugs.

2. Prescription drugs must be examined at least every 12 months, and drugs for which the expiration date has passed must be removed and quarantined.

(b) Any prescription drugs of which the immediate or sealed outer containers or sealed secondary containers have been opened or used must be identified as such and must be quarantined and physically separated from other prescription drugs until they are destroyed or returned to the supplier.

(c) If the conditions under which a prescription drug has been returned cast doubt on the drug's safety, identity, strength, quality, or purity, the drug must be destroyed or returned to the supplier, unless examination, testing, or other investigation proves that the drug meets appropriate standards of safety, identity, strength, quality, and purity. In determining whether the conditions under which a drug has been returned cast doubt on the drug's safety, identity, strength, quality, or purity, the wholesale distributor must consider, among other things, the conditions under which the drug has been held, stored, or shipped before or during its return and the conditions of the drug and its container, carton, or labeling, as a result of storage or shipping.

(d) The recordkeeping requirements in subsection (6) must be followed for all outdated, damaged, deteriorated, misbranded, or adulterated prescription drugs.


The department shall adopt rules that require keeping such records of prescription drugs as are necessary for the protection of the public health.

(a) Wholesale distributors must establish and maintain inventories and records of all transactions regarding the receipt and distribution or other disposition of prescription drugs. These records must provide a complete audit trail from receipt to sale or other disposition, be readily retrievable for inspection, and include, at a minimum, the following information:

1. The source of the drugs, including the name and principal address of the seller or transferor, and the address of the location from which the drugs were shipped;

2. The name, principal address, and state license permit or registration number of the person authorized to purchase prescription drugs;

3. The name, strength, dosage form, and quantity of the drugs received and distributed or disposed of;

4. The dates of receipt and distribution or other disposition of the drugs; and

5. Any financial documentation supporting the transaction.

(b) Inventories and records must be made available for inspection and photocopying by authorized federal, state, or local officials for a period of 2 years following disposition of the drugs or 3 years after the creation of the records, whichever period is longer.

(c) Records described in this section that are kept at the inspection site or that can be immediately retrieved by computer or other electronic means must be readily available for authorized inspection during the retention period. Records that are kept at a central location outside of this state and that are not electronically retrievable must be made available for inspection within 2 working days after a request by an authorized official of a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. Records that are maintained at a central location within this state must be maintained at an establishment that is permitted pursuant to this part and must be readily available.

(d) Each manufacturer or re-packager of medical devices, over-the-counter drugs, or cosmetics must maintain records that include the name and principal address of the seller or transferor of the product, the address of the location from which the product was shipped, the date of the transaction, the name and quantity of the product involved, and the name and principal address of the person who purchased the product.

(e) When pedigree papers are required by this part, a wholesale distributor must maintain the pedigree papers separate and distinct from other records required under this part.


Each wholesale distributor, except for a manufacturer, shall annually provide the department with a written list of all wholesale distributors and manufacturers from whom the wholesale distributor purchases prescription drugs. A wholesale distributor, except a manufacturer, shall notify the department not later than 10 days after any change to either list. Such portions of the information required pursuant to this subsection which are a trade secret, shall be maintained by the department as trade secret information.


Wholesale distributors must establish, maintain, and adhere to written policies and procedures, which must be followed for the receipt, security, storage, inventory, and distribution of prescription drugs, including policies and procedures for identifying, recording, and reporting losses or thefts, and for correcting all errors and inaccuracies in inventories. Wholesale distributors must include in their written policies and procedures:

(a) A procedure whereby the oldest approved stock of a prescription drug product is distributed first. The procedure may permit deviation from this requirement, if the deviation is temporary and appropriate.

(b) A procedure to be followed for handling recalls and withdrawals of prescription drugs. Such procedure must be adequate to deal with recalls and withdrawals due to:

1. Any action initiated at the request of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russian Federation and Russia Federal Service on Surveillance in Healthcare and Social Development or any other federal, state, or local law enforcement or other government agency.

2. Any voluntary action by the manufacturer or repackager to remove defective or potentially defective drugs from the market; or

3. Any action undertaken to promote public health and safety by replacing existing merchandise with an improved product or new package design.

(c) A procedure to ensure that wholesale distributors prepare for, protect against, and handle any crisis that affects security or operation of any facility if a strike, fire, flood, or other natural disaster, or a local, state, or national emergency, occurs.

(d) A procedure to ensure that any outdated prescription drugs are segregated from other drugs and returned to the manufacturer or repackager or destroyed. This procedure must provide for written documentation of the disposition of outdated prescription drugs. This documentation must be maintained for 2 years after disposition of the outdated drugs.


Wholesale distributors must establish and maintain lists of officers, directors, managers, designated representatives, and other persons in charge of wholesale drug distribution, storage, and handling, including a description of their duties and a summary of their qualifications.


A wholesale distributor must operate in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

(a) A wholesale distributor must allow the agency and authorized federal, state, and local officials to enter and inspect its premises and delivery vehicles, and to audit its records and written operating procedures, at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, to the extent authorized by law.

(b) A wholesale distributor that deals in controlled substances must register with the Russia Federal Service on Surveillance in Healthcare and Social Development and Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russian Federation and must comply with all applicable state, local, and federal laws.


A wholesale distributor is subject to any applicable federal, state, or local laws or regulations that relate to prescription drug product salvaging or reprocessing.


The person responsible for shipment and transportation of a prescription drug in a wholesale distribution may use a common carrier; its own vehicle or employee acting within the scope of employment; or, in the case of a prescription drug intended for domestic distribution, an independent contractor who must be the agent of the authorized seller or recipient responsible for shipping and transportation as set forth in a written contract between the parties. A person selling a prescription drug for export must obtain documentation, such as a validated airway bill, bill of lading, or other appropriate documentation that the prescription drug was exported. A person responsible for shipping or transporting prescription drugs is not required to maintain documentation from a common carrier that the designated recipient received the prescription drugs; however, the person must obtain such documentation from the common carrier and make it available to the authorities upon request.


Prior to purchasing any prescription drugs from another wholesale distributor, a prescription drug wholesale distributor, an out-of-state prescription drug wholesale distributor, or a prescription drug re-packager must:

(a) Enter an agreement with the selling wholesale distributor by which the selling wholesale distributor will indemnify the purchasing wholesale distributor for any loss caused to the purchasing wholesale distributor related to the purchase of drugs from the selling wholesale distributor which are determined to be counterfeit or to have been distributed in violation of any federal or state law governing the distribution of drugs.

(b) Determine that the selling wholesale distributor has insurance coverage of not less than the greater of 1 percent of the amount of total Rouble volume of the prescription drug sales

(c) Obtain information from the selling wholesale distributor, including the length of time the selling wholesale distributor has been licensed, a copy of the selling wholesale distributor's licenses or permits, and background information concerning the ownership of the selling wholesale distributor, including the experience of the wholesale distributor in the wholesale distribution of prescription drugs.

(d) Verify that the selling wholesale distributor's Russian permit is valid.

(e) Inspect the selling wholesale distributor's licensed establishment to document that it has a policies and procedures manual relating to the distribution of drugs, the appropriate temperature controlled environment for drugs requiring temperature control, an alarm system, appropriate access restrictions, and procedures to ensure that records related to the wholesale distribution of prescription drugs are maintained as required by law.

Our dedicated and trained personnel, State Licensed Pharmacist and Provisory Agent are available for our clients at our warehouse.

Wholesale Distribution of Pharmaceutical Products License No. ФС-99-02-001486 issued at August 16, 2010.