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Do you need a premium courier for your clinical shipments?

Des Charlery

By: Des Charlery October 18 2018

Tags: Logistics for Clinical Trials, Global Distribution, Transportation

Do you need a premium courier for your clinical shipment

During a recent webinar – “Mitigating Risks in Cold Chain Supplies Management” – participants were asked if they audit their portfolio of transportation providers. Half of the participants responded that they do not ensure their providers are GDP compliant and are performing according to stated service level agreements

When considering your choice of courier, will the supplier you use for high-value biologics be the most cost-effective choice for an ambient product that is in ample supply? Is the supplier you choose for Europe going to be the best service provider in remote African countries?

If you do not objectively review courier performance in terms of cost and efficiency over time, how are you to know if you have the best courier choice for transporting clinical supplies across countries and continents?

To guide this selection process, it’s important to understand there are two types of courier providers: “integrators” and “premium” providers. The difference in service is not only cost, but also the level of involvement the courier has in ensuring the products are safe, and stored in appropriate temperature conditions while going through customs clearance. How do you know which to choose, and when?

  • If a temperature-controlled shipment dispatches from the United Kingdom and is to be delivered to The Netherlands, we know:
  • Flight times between the UK and The Netherlands are only an hour, and total transit time from pick-up to delivery-to-site is normally no more than 24 hours.
  • No customs clearance will be required, so the material will not be delayed at the destination airport.
  • All sites in The Netherlands can be reached without any special transport requirements whilst in country.

Based on this information, the Sponsor may select an “integrator” courier service to transport a qualified shipper with 48-hour hold timeframe.

However, if the shipment dispatches from the UK for delivery to a facility in Argentina, there are different considerations that impact the selection process:

  • Flight times between the UK and Argentina can take 15 hours.
  • Customs clearance will be required and can be a very complex and lengthy process. Supplies will need to be stored in the right environment while at the destination airport.
  • Though uncommon, not all sites can be reached as easily as others and an experienced courier in this region may need to be appointed for final mile delivery.

Based on these details, the Sponsor should usea qualified shipper with a longer hold time e.g. one with 96-hour hold time to accommodate the first leg of the journey into Argentina. A premium courier can help facilitate the customs process, and can proactively monitor temperature conditions to ensure product integrity through to final destination.

As clinical trials increasingly include emerging markets and remote regions, sponsors can benefit from access to an expanded portfolio of providers to ensure you have the best match for each origin / destination point. You can’t simply rely on a procurement team to choose the lowest cost provider from among a relatively small number of ‘preferred providers.’ The materials are too valuable and the risk is too great.

Learn how a detailed analysis of a leading multinational pharmaceutical company’s transportation spend led to a 4% improvement in their on-time, in-full performance while also decreasing use of premium couriers to only 7% of their shipments.

Download the Case Study

Des Charlery