In January 1925, a diphtheria outbreak struck a remote Alaskan town near the Artic Circle. Severe weather had isolated the town with ice, snow, and strong winds. Only a very limited amount of diphtheria antitoxin was available. The town’s physician feared many residents would die.
Getting the medicinal supplies to the town was more than a challenge and clearly required a collective, collaborative effort. Dog sled teams were put together for the “serum run”. Twenty “mushers” and 150 dogs risked their lives and covered nearly 1000 km in a record five and one-half days, passing off a package of glass-sealed ampules in a day and night relay.
Looking at this heroic event 90 years after lets us see how the decision makers identified and controlled the risks. Through the lens of our relatively recent knowledge of the product, we can see risks that those involved at the time did not know of.
James Vesper, BS, MPH has written, spoken, and taught extensively on risk management and other pharmaceutical GMP topics. This video is from his TALKSPOT appearance at WHO Headquarters on 17 September 2012 in Salle C.
It is rare that a story centered around maintaining the pharmaceutical cold chain can be so compelling as to leave an indelible impression on those who have heard the story told. This is the essence of the allegorical tale based on actual events and experiences as told by the author, Kevin O’Donnell.
There Once Was A Woman From Pleasanttown is the title of the author’s popular tale (first published in Contract Pharma Magazine in September, 2009) in which we are introduced to Maureen, a 33 year-old active mother of two fallen by cervical cancer. As the story unfolds, we follow Maureen through her surgery and subsequent treatment regimen. In her effort to make educated and informed chemotherapy choices, Maureen reaches out for advice from a friend who works in pharmaceutical logistics and temperature-controlled supply chain. What he discovers about the storage and handling of the oncology drugs she takes makes for a surprising turn of events that culminates with an ironic and devastating ending.
This video is from his TALKSPOT appearance at WHO Headquarters on October 23rd, 2012.