Why can it take us three to four weeks to deliver a medicine, and what can customers do to speed things up?
As a worldwide service, we love helping people from every continent, but it’s a shame that we don’t get to meet them in person. So, we thought it would be fun to do a series of blogs about our team members so that you can get to know us better!
Introducing Lieschen de Klerk: pharmacist and our Logistics Manager a.k.a. Delivery of Medicines Extraordinaire. It takes someone with a special set of skills to ensure that the latest medicines get delivered to countries around the world, whilst maintain the highest medical standards of quality and safety. Lieschen never takes her eye off the ball; we honestly think she has more knowledge about medicine safety and importation requirements than any other person on this planet.
She explains why it can take three to four weeks to deliver a medicine, and what customers can do to speed things up.
Name: Lieschen de Klerk
Country of Origin: South Africa
My favourite thing about living in Amsterdam is…The beautiful canals! They make me feel like I’m living in a real life museum.
Before I joined TheSocialMedwork I was… A hospital pharmacist in Capetown, South Africa.
What exactly do you do as a Logistics Manager?
I arrange for the sourced medicines to be delivered to patients worldwide as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining the highest (medical) standards of quality and safety.
This is a lot more complicated than it sounds, because each medicine has its own safety rules to guard its quality, and needs to be handled with care. Every country has its own requirements and regulations about the types of documents that need to be in place for the medicine to be imported into their region. It involves a lot of research, as this information isn’t always easy to find.
"I love that I’m part of something that’s truly revolutionising healthcare as we know it, and ultimately improving the way patients are treated."
Some medicines need to be kept below a certain temperature, which can be difficult when you’re delivering to countries with warmer climates. We delivered a medicine to Zimbabwe a few weeks ago and had to organise for the package to make timely stop en route so that the cooling elements could be replaced.
I’m regularly calling our special couriers to make sure they understand that why our packages are always so urgent, and speed up the delivery process even more. Our patients don’t have time to waste! As our company has grown, so has our reputation with our selected couriers, so this has gotten easier over time – I’m pretty sure some of the courier staff from the other side of the world know my name off by heart now!
What do you love about your role?
The sense of achievement I feel each time an innovative medicine gets delivered to a patient on time!
What we’re doing – sourcing and delivering the latest overseas approved medicines to patients worldwide, on a named patient basis, has never really been done before, or at least in this way. I love that I’m part of something that’s truly revolutionising healthcare as we know it, and ultimately improving the way patients are treated.
I can’t explain how rewarding it is as a pharmacist – a profession centred on the efficacy of medicines – to see these medicines actually reach patients who really need them, in so many places around the world. They probably wouldn’t have been able to be treated with them as quickly, or at all, without our service.
Why does it take three to four weeks for the medicine to be delivered from the moment of payment?
Unlike a normal online shop, we don’t actually stock the medicines onsite. Because of the way the safety rules and regulations work for importing such medicines on a ‘named patient basis’, they need to stay safeguarded until they’re officially ordered (with a doctor’s prescription) by the patient.
Customs clearance can also take a few days, even if all the accompanying documents are correct. Because it’s a medicine it needs to be inspected and cleared by the country’s regulatory authority. As the medicine isn’t yet well known in the patient’s country, it can take customs a bit longer than usual to look into it.
"I can’t explain how rewarding it is as a pharmacist...to see these medicines actually reach patients who really need them, in so many places around the world."
As with any delivery, although the package is traced by us 24/7, it could be picked for random inspection, potentially causing further delays. These are variables that we don’t really have much control over, so we tell patients it will take an estimated 3–4 weeks, to allow for these situations. We’d rather under promise and over deliver! Fortunately, most of the time our patients and their treating doctors receive their medicine much earlier. The good news is that to date, no customs have ever refused entry of one of our urgent parcels...and that’s in over 30 different countries!
Is there anything people ordering the medicines can do to expedite the delivery process?
There sure is!
- Send us all the necessary documentation before we start shipping the medicines.
- Pay your local import duties/costs on time.
- If the courier contacts you to request anything, let us know straight away so that we can take care of it for you.