Finding ways to improve efficiencies and manage the increasingly uncertain and complex clinical trial supply chain is a high priority for the pharma and medical technology industry. Annually, $20 billion of R&D spending is essentially wasted due to poor clinical trial management and planning. Based on our experience with supply chain logistics management, we have identified some innovative approaches and tips as to how you can keep your study’s costs low and predictable:
- Optimize logistics strategy: With clinical trials, there is a high risk of oversimplification and inadequate planning which can significantly impact the overall cost, not to mention that a single mistake can jeopardize a trial’s success. It is important to recognize all the factors that can affect the supply chain, such as, country-specific regulations and approvals, packaging and labeling, temperature-controlled storage, and more intricate logistics, and be able to develop a flexible and proactive strategy to mitigate any unseen curve balls. For example, improper planning of supply of product to each study site results in higher shipping costs. To mitigate this, increasing visibility into the supply chain, having a system in place to track inventory, and adopting a distribution model that allows for preparing product as needed will significantly decrease costs.
- Leveraging technology and risk-based monitoring: Over the past decade, there have been several technological advancements that are capable of decreasing the cost of clinical trials and increasing the chance of success by allowing for transparency and increasing patient adherence. This includes electronic management systems (EMS), cold chain technology, synthetic control arms, Blockchain, and computer simulation and AI, which are all efficient ways to help manage trials. Moreover, one of the most costly aspects of clinical trials is monitoring (25-30% of the overall cost). For this reason, risk-based monitoring (RBM) has emerged to reduce risks in later-stage development and aid in making go/no-go decisions. RBM can help identify risks and implement an appropriate risk-management strategy, accurately monitor the quality of a study and safety of participants, and collect data electronically with minimal errors and expedited results.
- Reduce product wastage: Overproduction and inefficient packaging and labelling of clinical trial products can drastically increase clinical trial costs. By adopting more sustainable production techniques, such as using biodegradable plastics, eliminating the need for secondary packaging, and through digital labelling, it is possible to decrease costs associated with materials, relabeling and energy use. Furthermore, on-demand packaging and distribution can prevent overproduction and waste associated from unused product, ultimately reducing costs.
- Outsource to implement flexibility: The majority of industry companies are beginning to rely heavily on outsourcing their clinical trial needs; largely attributed to the rising costs and falling productivity. Outsourcing different functions to clinical trial logistics firms can result in up to 30% quicker completion times and cost savings of approximately 15% of total logistics costs. Clinical trial logistics and supply management organizations are experts in their field, hence they are able to improve efficiencies, proactively handle road bumps, and leverage their technologies, to ultimately produce better trial outcomes at a reduced cost.
Let’s face it, managing clinical trials will continue to become more complex and their costs will continue to rise. It is important to understand the industry trends and options available to mitigate the climbing costs. By implementing some of the methods outlined in this post on your own or through a clinical trials management service it is possible to achieve reduction in project lengths and costs. Bay Area Research Logistics is committed to helping you with your clinical trial needs in the most efficient and cost-effective way.