Are patients satisfied with eco-responsible cold chain packaging?


Cold chain packaging represents a significant cost and environmental impact. Eco-friendly packaging could reduce both.

Many drugs carried in specialty pharmacies for complex medical conditions require refrigeration, and maintaining a certain temperature is important to ensure patient safety as well as drug efficacy. Many pharmacies use cardboard boxes, insulation and ice packs to help get these drugs safely to customers, but this system is both expensive and environmental. A poster presented by Madelyn E. Harvey, PharmD, MBA, CTTS, Pharmacy Resident at WVU Medicine in Morgantown, WV, at the 2022 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Summer Meetings and Expos in Phoenix, Arizona examined whether patient satisfaction could be maintained with a more environmentally friendly delivery method.

The study examined 2 delivery methods used at 1 health system pharmacy in West Virginia: an individual box with insulation and ice packs versus a reusable insulated container capable of storing multiple individually wrapped packages. Medicines were delivered either by couriers associated with the health system or by UPS. Any patient who received medication in cold chain packaging from the pharmacy was considered eligible for the study and was assigned to 1 of 2 groups based on delivery service. Patients responded to a telephone survey that included both demographic information and ratings on preferred delivery method.

There were 101 respondents, including 61 women; 84 participants used a drug linked to the State Pharmacy Inflammatory Diseases Team. Health system courier deliveries have been categorized into 9 different pre-determined routes within a 3 hour radius of Morgantown.

Sixty patients said they preferred eco-packaging, while 16 said they liked conventional packaging and 25 said they had no preference. A large majority of patients rated their satisfaction with the eco-packaging as 5/5 or “very satisfied” and no patient fell below 3/5 or neutral. Thirty-eight of the patients received their medications by mail and UPS. An equal number of patients (17) preferred courier or had no preference, and only 4 preferred UPS.

Overall, patients were satisfied with the eco-friendly packaging and preferred it over conventional methods, which resulted in less bulk waste.

“Patients have an increased preference for healthcare-owned couriers over UPS,” Harvey concluded. “This is attributed to maintaining courier relationships and confidence in ensuring prompt delivery with appropriate temperature.” Combining courier delivery with eco-friendly packaging could lead to better patient satisfaction.


Harvey ME. Patient satisfaction with eco-friendly cold chain delivery methods and packaging for drug deliveries in a healthcare system specialty pharmacy. Presented at: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 2022 Summer Meetings and Exhibition; June 11-15, 2022; Phoenix, AZ. Poster 41-T.


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