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International Clinical Trials

Solid Supply

Chris Tierney at DHL Exel Supply Chain considers the need for consolidation of global clinical trial supply networks alongside the twin drivers of cost reduction and service enhancement within this increasingly competitive industry

In the last decade, there has been considerable consolidation within the pharmaceutical industry across the globe. This has, in the main, been precipitated by an overall theme of rationalisation, whereby mergers and acquisitions have reduced the number of large and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies with a pharmaceutical development focus. At the same time, the geographic scope and the scale of clinical studies has enjoyed a marked increase, with the pursuit of patient populations leading sponsors to emerging markets such as the Far East, Middle East and South America.

The environment in which today’s organisations operate has been characterised by a series of conflicting demands driving a focus on increasing the value of every R&D dollar invested. This is manifested as globalisation, a renewed vigour on cost reduction within R&D budgets and competition for target principal investigators and their patient populations.

READING TRENDS

For the supply chain, the impact of this shift is many-fold. The acquisition trend has led to a raft of varied products, many of which have become, or are heading towards, obsolescence. Companies are increasingly operating with multiple systems and from multiple facilities (both owned and third party) across the world. The result is a lack of visibility in terms of where products are at any given time, and a need to analyse the delivery of clinical supplies to investigators in order to avoid duplication of cost and resources.

Consequently, the more successful companies have, or are undergoing, a strategic business evaluation that takes a fresh look at the existing clinical trials logistics network and provides a proposition that, in the main, moves away from the legacy affiliate networks and introduces a strategic redesign that enables the creation of a supply chain for 2012 and beyond. This will allow the most agile organisations to capitalise quickly on accessing a wide range of diverse patient populations and focusing recruitment on lower cost geographies (at the expense of the more mature Western populations).


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Chris Tierney graduated in 1995 with a BSc in Medical Biochemistry and shortly after joined Exel’s international management training scheme. He has worked in operations, strategic marketing and product development. In 2003, Chris completed his MBA. Chris’s current role is Business Development Manager for DHL Healthcare, and he has responsibility for global sales and the strategic development of the clinical trials logistics offerings
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