CSafe is a purpose driven company whose employees come to work every day knowing that what they do will have an impact on someone’s life. Our employees, no matter what job they have in the company, have in their mind that there is a patient at the end of the supply chain who is depending on them to flawlessly perform their job. We have a reputation for supplying the best performing and highest quality solutions to serve the life science cold chain. We have that reputation because our employees take a lot of pride in our mission, and they understand the therapy being carried in one of our solutions is useless unless we have done our job – flawlessly. The pharmaceutical company that spent billions of dollars and years of research to bring humanity a life enhancing therapy deserves a packaging solution that will protect the efficacy of that therapy. Our mission is, “To provide peace of mind by offering best-in-class temperature management solutions for the delivery of life-enhancing products”. The result of fulfilling that mission is the delivery of an efficacious therapy to enhance someone’s life.
We know many of the patients who benefit from some of the amazing therapies available, and one of those patients is one of our own. Jez Palmer, our Senior Director of Airline Partner Alliances was willing to sit down with me and answer some very poignant questions about his diabetes, the insulin he requires to manage it, and his reliance on the cold chain.
PS: Hi Jez. Good to chat with you again. Will you share with me when you were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?
JP: September 27, 1990.
PS: Wow. You remember the exact date?
JP: Yes. It was such a relief to finally know what it was. You see, I was only 14 years old and had been suffering for probably 6-9 months at that point. I’d been out of school because I was so ill and lost 2.5 stone in 6 weeks. I was tested for all sorts of things and treated for several others. All of the treatments were completely ineffective. My mother was very upset, of course, and I just wanted to stop being sick all the time and be a kid. The diagnosis was a huge relief because now we knew what we were dealing with.
PS: I can only imagine how difficult that was as a child. How did your life have to change?
JP: One of the biggest changes for me personally was that I had to change my approach to sports entirely. I was 14, remember so my priorities were different. I played rugby and such before I got sick and worried I wouldn’t get to play again. The doctors said I could, but I would have to keep close track of my insulin and activity vs. glucose.
PS: So, you began taking insulin right away?
JP: Yes. And because it’s multiple shots daily, I had to manage them myself – the injections and the dosing. In fact, all diabetics do. We are the only patient group allowed to manage our own dosing because it’s based on individual daily changes in our glucose levels which can be affected by food, activity, stress, lack of sleep, other medications and a variety of other factors.
PS: Walk me through the process of picking up your insulin from the pharmacy to actual injections.
JP: First, I’ll say that after gaining critical knowledge of the cold chain and asking far too many questions, far too many times, the local pharmacy staff tend to cringe when they see me. Thankfully, my lovely wife does not elicit the same reaction and goes for me.
But as far as the process goes, a single vial of insulin is good for 28 days if held at the proper temperature which is 2°C to 8°C. From the pharmacy, I have to go directly home – no additional stops or errands – and refrigerate it. When it’s time for a shot, the insulin must be brought up to room temperature prior to injection.
PS: What happens if the insulin freezes or goes above 8°C?
JP: If it freezes it’s immediately ineffective and becomes rubbish. Obviously because it has to come to room temperature for injection, it remains effective for some time at that temperature. However, if it gets too hot it spoils and becomes equally useless and bound for the bin.
PS: In either case, your wife has to go back to the pharmacy, right?
JP: Yes. But there are complications around that. For instance, I’m at greater risk of my insulin spoiling when I travel. I’m not traveling much now, but as a rule I do quite often for work. If my insulin is spoiled or becomes frozen en route to anywhere but home, I’ve got a problem.
Relevant to supply, I did some research before we spoke and while stock levels are good now, a recent study predicts that diabetes prevalence will increase from 463 million people in 2019 to 578 million in 2030 and 700 million by 2045. Another study on global insulin use projects an increase of 20% by 2030. I certainly hope the supply will keep up with demand, but that’s a significant increase in a short period of time.
PS: With what seems like a lot of uncontrollable factors involved, what are the repercussions if you don’t or can’t take your insulin?
JP: Imagine drinking five full liters of full sugar Coca-Cola back-to-back. That’s how it feels at the beginning. You’re visiting the toilet constantly and also tired and thirsty. Your heart rate goes up. You feel nauseous and don’t want to eat. It’s pretty miserable.
But if you miss too many and are not treating it, the high glucose levels can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs permanently. This is when you start to see extremities begin to deteriorate, vision problems and even death.
PS: I may never look at a Coke in quite the same way after that. But all joking aside, what does having access to viable insulin mean for your life? When I say, ‘Temperature assured. Life enhanced.’ what does that mean to you?
JP: Those two statements sum it up for me. My insulin is life critical. If it’s not kept at the proper temperature, I can’t take it and that puts my life at risk. When I have viable, temperature assured medication, I’m able to live a normal life and play rugby, swim, work, take vacations with my wife – nearly everything but have a motorbike. But that’s another conversation.
I want to thank Jez for being so open with me about his disease and treatments and how the cold chain directly affects his daily life. He and all of the other patients with diabetes or any other disease are who we had in mind as we shaped our mission and the overall goal we as an organization strive to achieve. I also want to be sure and thank Jez’s wife for making all the pharmacy trips. The pharmacist, Jez and all of us at CSafe certainly appreciate you!