ASC support partners Virgin Atlantic Cargo in successfully obtaining WDA licence from the MHRA

ASC have been working with Virgin Atlantic Cargo for many years on a variety of different projects. The latest of these projects focused on assisting Virgin Atlantic Cargo to gain their WDA license for the London operations, which would enable them to offer their customers a GDP compliant service. Our work with Virgin Atlantic Cargo began in June 2016, and we are pleased to announce that they gained their WDA license in April 2018.

The support of senior management is critical for the successful outcome of any project, but particularly one that involves quality. ASC were privileged to work with a strong project team, led by Virgin’s Darren Sherlock, and we offer our congratulations to them.

“ASC have been instrumental in our growth into the healthcare market, which was recently punctuated with us achieving our WDA certification in the UK. From the initial gap analysis, developing SOPs, and input developing our quality management system, right through to the delivery of training and getting us ready for our final audit; their knowledge and expertise has ensured that we’ve executed each phase of the project successfully. We plan to continue to work with ASC as we further develop, and I’ve every confidence that with their guidance, Virgin Cargo will go from strength to strength in this area.”
Darren Sherlock – Manager, Products and Partnerships | Virgin Atlantic Cargo


Gaining a WDA license requires extensive auditing and compliance, which is where ASC were able to offer advice and support. The first stage involved conducting the ‘ASC GDP Health Check’ on Virgin’s cargo operation and that of their Ground Handling Agents at London Heathrow, the Virgin Atlantic Cargo Hub, and Manchester. This was a thorough audit against EU Good Distribution Practice (GDP) Guidelines and Supply Chain Security. Virgin then took the findings and conducted a CAPA plan to close the non-compliances.

We supported Virgin throughout this process using regular project meetings to ensure momentum was maintained. As part of the project, ASC has trained 80 key personnel on our bespoke certified (GDP) training course, which is designed for logisticians by logisticians. Whilst many other GDP courses focus on wholesale activities, we have developed a course that demonstrates how GDP is applicable in pharmaceutical logistics.

Changing an airline environment into a facility that is operating to the same standards as a Wholesaler of Medicinal Products is a challenge. But Virgin Atlantic Cargo were dedicated to achieving these high standards, enabling them to demonstrate their on-going continuous improvements in quality. By mid-April 2018 the Virgin operation was audited by the MHRA and after a successful audit they received their WDA


Virgin Atlantic are a global airline who were recently voted the 5th best airline in the world.  Virgin Atlantic Cargo is the subsidiary responsible for the cargo and freight operation of the airline. Founded in 1984, it has been providing award winning services to their customers ever since.

Virgin Atlantic Cargo support the Life Science and pharmaceutical industry by offering a range of solutions for time and temperature sensitive products. Internationally accepted GDP guidelines play a key role in assuring transport and distribution of medicinal products for human use does not adversely impact product quality and integrity. The GDP guidelines focus on well-established pharmaceutical working procedures, and continuously improving distribution and handling expertise.

In the UK the MHRA requires companies hold a wholesale dealer license – or wholesale distribution authorisation (WDA) – when providing short-term storage for refrigerated items. In August 2014, the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published the document Short- Term Storage of Ambient and Refrigerated Medicinal Product – Requirements for a WDA, which stated the following:

  • Sites holding ambient products in excess of 36 hours must be licensed
  • Sites where refrigerated products are held, even when this is for less than 36 hours, must be licensed (2)

Having these management systems in place gives the customers the confidence that the company have the controls in place to provide continuity, good quality and service.


The WDA is a recognized global quality standard and plays a critical role in assuring transport and distribution of medicinal products for human use does not adversely impact product quality and integrity.

The license provides proof that the Virgin Atlantic operations are “fit for purpose” at their own and at their partners’ facilities.  It also provides evidence that they are operating within a GDP compliant network.

Their customers can be assured that their shipments will be handled in a fully compliant manner.


The journey has only just begun for Virgin Atlantic Cargo. Regulations are updated, technology advances, and needs evolve, so remaining compliant will require Virgin Atlantic Cargo to remain up-to-date with the latest regulations. ASC will continue to provide advice and support to help Virgin Atlantic Cargo be the best and remain compliant moving forward.


ASC is distinctive. In the pharmaceutical and healthcare worlds – where external threats to business and intellectual property are ever-increasing, we go above and beyond – dedicated to improving all aspects of supply chain logistics. Established in 2011 we have supported all the major stakeholders within the supply chain on GDP and Supply Chain Security.

With a relentless focus on innovation, security, safety, compliance and efficacy, we take extraordinary care with attention to detail. We advise. We assess. We train. We plan. We audit. We scope. We inspect. We implement. In person.

We’re there at the beginning of your journey, ever-present throughout, and with you at the end. And all along, we’re an experienced and knowledgeable partner, supporting your business to enable you to deliver on your own promises.

If you would like to have a chat about your requirements give us a shout. We’d love to hear from you.