Pharmaceutical grade refrigerators are specially built vaccine storage refrigerators primarily used in research and medical facilities. They are used to preserve the efficacy of temperature-sensitive medicine and other pharmaceutical grade medical samples for accurate and reliable lab results.
Finding a medical refrigerator that meets the needs of your facility is paramount. Here are factors to consider when choosing a pharmaceutical grade refrigerator.
1. What is the Ideal Size and Capacity
Obviously, size is a key concern when choosing a freezer for pharmaceuticals. You’re looking for a unit that can adequately store all that you need — not too big nor too small for its use. Determine how much storage you need then select what meets your capacity.
The performance of most refrigerators, both grocery and medical, usually depends on how much the unit is filled — optimal performance is achieved with between 30 and 80% of capacity. A partly filled medical refrigerator will experience huge temperature fluctuations since there is too much space for air to circulate. On the other hand, if you excessively load a unit, there are potential risks of cold and hot spots forming due to poor air circulation. This can adversely affect the efficacy of the stored materials.
2. Temperature Requirements
There is no standard temperature for storing vaccines or pharmaceutical grade medical samples. However, it’s advisable that the most ideal temperature a medical or laboratory refrigerator should be put on is between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
Pharmaceutical grade refrigerators have varying specifications depending on what they are storing and they are classified primarily by their temperature. Ultralow medical refrigerators and freezers can achieve temperatures of between -45 and -85 degrees Celsius while a standard refrigerator can reach between -10 and -20 degrees Celsius.
So it’s certainly important to know the temperature requirements of your medicines or biological samples before buying a pharmaceutical grade refrigerator. This will help you make an informed decision on the right type of unit for your application.
Vaccines, in particular, are very sensitive and to ensure they are stored properly you need to follow three important steps: store vaccines at the ideal temperature; record daily temperatures at the start of the workday; check temperature whenever you access the refrigerator and take action if the temperature is out of the desired range.
Finding the right shelving for your medical refrigerator will ensure proper airflow. Glass shelves are the most common — largely for residential applications, as they are easy to clean. But they are not the best option when it comes to medical storage because solid surfaces are known to lower cooling capacity. Consider using, wire shelves or perforated shelves to minimize internal temperature variance.
Some pharmaceutical grade refrigerators are designed with interior freezer sections that have solid fronts, which protect the stored materials from reduced temperatures when the door is opened.
For proper airflow, however, the drawers should be constructed to allow full air circulation. The CDC highly recommends these kinds of shelves for medical-grade refrigerators.
Another key difference between medical and household refrigerators are the door shelves. A regular household fridge is built with door shelves for additional storage space, but items stored in this section are constantly exposed to ambient temperature. For medical-grade refrigerators, there are no door shelves instead they are built with flat door liners.
Some universal medical refrigerators will have door racks, but you’re highly discouraged to medicines or your samples on this section. You can stuff it with water bottles to maintain the internal temperature.
With the primary factors under consideration, it’s also important to think of additional features you should be looking in a laboratory refrigerator.
- Heavy-duty cords Most refrigerators are fitted with durable cord with a three-pronged plug. These are standard hospital-grade cords approved by the local authorities.
- Self-closing doors Opening and closing a refrigerator door results to ambient temperature. Sometimes working with a team can be a challenge if a person accidentally forgets to close the door properly. With a self-closing door medical-grade refrigerator this problem is solved.
- Open door alarms In addition to self-closing doors, most lab refrigerators are also built with alarm systems that notify when the door is left open. It will sound for a minute or two until the door is closed.