Common Types of Pharmaceuticals That Need Cold Chain Shipping

Pharmaceuticals In A Shipping Box

Many pharmaceuticals are sensitive to temperature excursions and must be shipped at a refrigerated temperature of 36 F to 46 F. High temperatures can accelerate oxidation and hydrolysis and degrade certain medications, impacting potency and potentially forming toxic byproducts. Likewise, freezing temperatures can damage certain temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, possibly leading to waste and financial loss. The pharma industry loses billions of dollars yearly due to supply chain issues, largely related to temperature excursions.

The first step to maintaining temperature control is to know the manufacturer’s storage requirements. Temperature requirements for specific medications can be found on the product’s label or in the United States Pharmacopeia. Here are common pharmaceuticals that require cold chain shipping.


Most vaccines need to be kept between 36 F and 46 F. This includes the following vaccine types:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV
  • Influenza
  • Polio
  • Meningococcal
  • MMR
  • Pneumococcal

Packing the above vaccines in an insulated container with gel packs can prevent temperature deviations during last-mile deliveries.


Insulin manufacturers in the United States recommend refrigerating insulin to maintain product potency until its expiration date. Exposure to extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can render insulin ineffective.

These insulin brands require temperature control:

  • Lantus
  • Humalog
  • Apidra
  • NovoLog
  • Humulin
  • Novolin
  • Levemir

Hormone Therapies

Certain types and brands of hormone therapies require refrigeration to prevent degradation. For example, growth hormones, such as Genotropin, Humatrope and Norditropin, must be stored at refrigerated temperatures.

GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

GLP-1 medications like semaglutide — Ozempic being a common example — are used to treat type 2 diabetes and aid with weight loss. The manufacturer recommends storing Ozempic at 36 F to 46 F before first use. As a popular mail-order medication, shippers can use gel packs to ensure Ozempic reaches consumers within a safe temperature range.


Biologics include a range of temperature-sensitive medications derived from living cells. They may require refrigeration or ultra-low temperatures to stay intact. Some common temperature-sensitive biologics include medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, such as Humira, Enbrel and Remicade. These medications should be kept within a refrigerated temperature range to ensure quality.

Pelton Shepherd Simplifies Pharma Shipping

Cold chain shippers must ensure precise temperature control to deliver safe and effective products — which can be challenging when working against ambient temperature, humidity, traffic delays and other external factors. Reliable refrigerant solutions, like high-quality gel packs, keep pharma products within their required temperature range until they reach the end user.

You can trust Pelton Shepherd’s gel packs to keep your pharma shipments cold during the last mile. Contact us today for a quote or ask about our custom solutions.

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