Smooth, reliable and efficient logistics are vital for keeping the clinical trial supply chain well oiled. With plenty of experience to draw upon, World Courier Management shares the conditions that need to be met to ensure that only the best supply strategy is pursued.
Who knew clinical trial logistics had so much in common with the automotive and high-tech industries? That certainly seems to be the case with trends like just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, customer-managed inventory (CMI) and vendor-managed inventory (VMI). All of these initiatives came to the clinical trial logistics market as ideas proven in other, seemingly unrelated, industries.
The growing prominence of these initiatives in the clinical-trial market points to two key trends in pharmaceutical development: first, clinical research is increasingly a global proposition that requires a departure from traditional supply strategies; and second, supply-chain flexibility is more essential now than ever before.
With manufacturers reining in costs worldwide, supply-chain innovation is essential to maximising investments. JIT tactics - such as pooling agnostic supplies and JIT labelling - work with multilingual labelling, interactive response technologies (IRT) and multistudy packaging to generate greater efficiency. The use of clinical-trial depots has risen in popularity as well, with shippers valuing the ability to import bulk quantities of materials with a single clearance. This results in reduced paperwork and lower transport costs. In some cases, the use of a depot is required by local regulations.
Choosing a depot network is often more difficult than it appears. Obviously, depot locations affect transportation costs, but a host of other factors can also influence quality, security and supply integrity - all of which can impact on the bottom line. World Courier Management has assembled a series of considerations that shippers can bear in mind when evaluating depot options for global clinical studies.
Accessing the clinical trial marketplace and taking into account growth in emerging markets, the industry is presented with challenges and opportunities alike, from evolving regulations, the rise of multinational logistics services, temperature-control innovation and the direct-to-patient model for supply. Optimising the supply chain, enhancing clinical-trial efficiency and selecting the right partners are critical steps for manufacturers in an increasingly cost-conscious and results-driven environment.