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  • Sustainability
  • About

Storing of Pharmaceuticals – A Critical Need for Society

[Business and operations] Published 29-06-2022

Constructing a giant strongroom for controlled drugs

How to build an unbreakable strongroom as big as a house

Drug storage is among the pharmaceutical industry’s most important responsibilities. Apart from preventing product deterioration, secure storage prevents the misuse of drugs through them falling into the wrong hands.

This means there is a need for high security on a grand scale. The pharma sector deals with large volumes of “controlled” drugs that unfortunately are becoming more and more attractive on the black market.

In Canada, 29 million individual doses of these powerful substances were stolen or lost between 2014 and 2018. The financial cost to society of drug misuse in the UK is almost £20 billion a year, while the human toll is incalculably larger in terms of shattered lives.

Most governments therefore demand that controlled drugs are stored in facilities certified to withstand attack by burglars. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors require massive strongrooms built from slabs of specially reinforced concrete and steel, with high-tech doors and locks.

Gunnebo strongrooms are certified by the independent European Certification Body. To obtain this certification, tools such as crowbars, drills, sledgehammers, oxyacetylene torches and even diamond-core drill bits are used to test the facility’s ability to withstand the most sophisticated attacks.

A strongroom built recently by Gunnebo measures 46m long, 10m wide and 15m high, weighs 750 tonnes, and has doors big enough to allow a forklift truck to drive inside. At the time it was built, this was the tallest such facility in Europe.

To make and install these giant strongrooms, Gunnebo has worked for more than 20 years with ACR, a British company offering specialist building design services mainly for the pharmaceutical sector.

“We first started cooperation with Gunnebo around 2000 when they arrived on the market with custom-made controlled drug strongrooms,” says Simon Robinson, CEO for ACR. “These solutions were approved by the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency, and they offered big advantages over the previous, more complicated methods of building controlled drug storage.”

Gunnebo has worked closely with ACR and its pharmaceutical clients on numerous projects, supplying some of the largest strongrooms in the UK. You can watch a timelapse video showing a strongroom being constructed here:

“Gunnebo offered a one-stop shop where they designed and certified the room, making projects much simpler,” says Simon. “From feasibility stage to handover, their professionalism and customer service is excellent. With Gunnebo you know you are in safe hands.”

Most of us know little or nothing about unusual security solutions such as this. But behind the scenes, they play an important role in creating a safer world.

To read more about Gunnebo’s high-tech strong rooms, click here