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International Clinical Trials

Logistical Challenges of Tomorrow

ICT: It is essential that clinical trial logistics are carried out in such a way as to optimise client investment. This involves managing time- and temperature-sensitive products to deliver potentially lifesaving treatments. How does World Courier ensure that drugs reach their destinations unharmed?

Volker Kirchner: World Courier is deeply involved with each shipment in the clinical trial process, knowing that the successful outcome can directly affect a patient’s health and life. Therefore, the safety, integrity and successful delivery of every shipment is of paramount interest to us. Before each project, we work closely with clients to gain a full understanding of their material requirements. We then select a solution comprising shipment routing, documentation and temperature-controlled packaging, which ensures that the drugs arrive where they need to be, when they need to be, and at the temperature they should be – without fail.

Can you tell us more about the role of packaging in the cold chain, and what kind of solutions are currently on the market?


As much of the material sent in the course of trials is temperaturesensitive, packaging plays a critically important role in the entire logistics process. There is a plenitude of different packaging systems and solutions available – each with strengths and weaknesses in specific situations – so selecting the best option for a certain drug is a challenging matter, but one that the success or failure of a shipment can easily hinge upon.

World Courier has maintained an intensive overview of the multitude of different solutions available, and even undertaken the task of creating its own temperature control packaging solutions when none of sufficient performance existed on the market. Our specialists are able to use their knowledge and overview of the packaging to assess the best fit for a specific shipment or entire project, required transport temperature, duration of transport, infrastructure available at all points along the way, and possible risks during transit, such as strikes and natural disasters.

With this knowledge and experience, the question of whether to use an active or passive container solution, a polystyrene box with dry ice or a dry shipper, a lightweight composite box with water-based gel packs, or a robust vacuum insulated shipper with high-quality phase change materials, can be analysed and solved in a way that is the best answer to the individual shipping challenge at hand.

How does World Courier guarantee that strong relationships with sponsors, CROs, laboratories and site personnel are maintained?

In our experience, we have come to learn that communication is everything. Offering standardised, ready-made solutions and trying to apply them to very special shipments alone will not result in success. That’s why in-depth communication is so essential for a successful transport completion. Sponsors, CROs, laboratories and site personnel are all aware of the facts about the product, origin, destination and regulatory requirements which are critical, but only through communicating with all stakeholders, and thereby gaining an intimate knowledge of the project, can we understand enough to guarantee success. With that success through communication, strong relationships can be forged. World Courier places strict emphasis on trust.

How does your company ensure that organisations continue to have faith in the services you provide?

Put simply, “the proof is in the pudding”. Claiming to be the most trusted speciality logistics company in the world is not the beginning of the path to success, but the outcome of it. When we partner with the pharmaceutical industry to understand their logistical needs, and create, innovate and test customtailored solutions to meet those demands and ensure that every single detail is met to complete satisfaction, the end result is invariably trust. That is the single most important currency with which we are paid for our dedication and diligence, and it is the currency that allows us to innovate even better and more ambitious solutions to meet the logistical challenges of tomorrow.

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Volker Kirchner is the Director of Temperature Control Solutions at World Courier, and is based in Munich. He has been with the company for 14 years, and his present responsibilities include all matters pertaining to temperature control solutions, packaging, qualification and packaging distribution and return logistics for all World Courier offices worldwide.
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Volker Kirchner
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