The development of COVID-19 vaccines has brought to light the need for ultra-low cold storage capabilities to maintain the vaccines’ integrity. Texas-based Life Science Logistics says it is investing tens of millions of dollars to add ultra-low frozen storage units at its FDA-regulated storage and distribution facility in Brownsburg. The company says it plans to have a “significant number” of -70 and -25-degree Celsius freezers in Boone County freezers at the Boone County location by the end of the month.
John Blackington, director of business development at LSL, says while the additional storage can help keep COVID-related products intact, the goal is to also support future needs beyond the pandemic.
“When hopefully, this is all passed, preparing for the next tranche of something like that or preparing for other medications coming down the line for various diseases is really what prompted us to push that way,” said Blackington.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer must be stored at a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius, according to the pharmaceutical company. Meanwhile, Moderna says its vaccine can be stored at freezer temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius.
LSL says it has received numerous requests, both before and during the pandemic, for ultra-low frozen storage “due to significant growth in injectible drugs for myriad diseases.”
“Prior to COVID and everything else like that, there’s been a shift for a lot of injectible drugs, for cancer treatments, for vaccines of different sorts, for diabetes, things like that have shifted us to say we need to be able to offer temp ranges across the board,” said Blackington. “That way, when somebody to us and says, ‘Hey, do you have the capability to store clinical trial material or vials or vaccines’ or whatever the case may be that needs that ultra-low frozen capability, we wanted to be able to say yes on the spot.”
Blackington says the decision to add the new storage was made several months ago. He says the company was able to get the jump on acquiring the units before demand really increased and it took about a month before they arrived.
“From there, the installation and setup was another month or so and there’s a validation process once these are set up to make sure that they are working properly, they are working as they’re designed, to validate them and that’s a month or a month-and-a-half process as well. That’s led us to this point to where these should be ready and operational come the new year.”
Blackington says while the additional storage capacity won’t translate to any new jobs, the company is currently looking to hire more than 200 people in the Indianapolis area for various warehousing and logistics positions.
Life Science Logistics also has a 280,000-square-foot facility in Whitestown with another 200,000-square-foot facility slated to open nearby in early 2021.
Blackington says while the additional storage can help keep COVID-related products intact, the goal is to also support future needs beyond the pandemic.