A vast new cargo warehouse at Brussels Airport ensures healthcare products always remain at the correct temperatures.
Healthcare products don't like changes in temperature. Human blood products such as red blood cells, platelets or plasma are particularly sensitive. Should they get too warm, bacteria can form, which risks causing fatal septic shock in patients receiving transfusions. Should they get too cold, they can release haemoglobin, causing fever, jaundice, even death.
And blood isn't the only healthcare product vulnerable to changes in temperature. Vaccines, insulin, and human tissue and organs, for example, can be rendered useless if their storage temperature rises or drops too much.
Even simple medicines are at threat. According to the International Institute of Refrigeration, nine of the top 10 best-selling medicines used around the world are sensitive to temperature.
So, for the pharmaceutical industry, news that a huge, temperature-controlled warehouse has just opened at Brussels Airport is very welcome indeed.
Called the Pharma Center, and operated by Swissport International, one of the world's leading air cargo handling companies, it offers 3,620 square metres of drive-in warehouse space, allowing sensitive medicines, pharmaceuticals and organic products to be transferred seamlessly from lorries to aircraft cargo holds, and vice versa. Among the larger pharmaceutical companies already using the facility are GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Marken.