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Sponsor Realizes Cost ($10.2m per year) and Performance Efficiencies (increased OTIF by 4%) with Innovative Transportation Solution

Our client, a leading multinational pharmaceutical company with a true commitment to delivering innovative medicines and to achieving clinical excellence, approached Fisher Clinical Services with an extensive clinical trial pipeline and the need to achieve a comprehensive, fully managed transportation strategy. This Sponsor believed that by outsourcing the transportation element of its clinical trials, its own teams could focus on what they did best – further developing new medicines across many therapeutic areas that could make a meaningful difference to patients’ lives across the globe.

Key Objectives:

  • Optimise transportation costs
  • Maximize OTIF delivery to all global locations
  • Deliver enhanced site satisfaction
  • De-risk the supply chain
  • Secure chain of custody of supplies at all times
  • Reduce burden on the Sponsor’s internal study management group
  • Proactively forecast & manage budgets

The Sponsor took time to evaluate many potential distribution partners. After an extensive period of research and evaluation, there were 3 key reasons for choosing to partner with Fisher Clinical Services:

1. A cGMP facility network, unparalleled in the industry
2. Unique, innovative, data driven logistics expertise
3. Sophisticated investigator site support

Also driven by the desire to achieve cost and performance efficiencies across a comprehensive pipeline of many global trials across many different therapeutic areas, the Sponsor felt confident that Fisher Clinical Services would deliver on this and would work closely with its in-house study management teams to continuously improve on defined metrics of measurement at all times.

The Solution
In order to best service this Sponsor a global cross functional team was established solely dedicated to this Sponsor alone. This cross functional team was founded on specialists from IT, Quality, Project Management, Engineering, Operations and Finance, with defined contact points with external logistics companies across the globe. Further strengths of this dedicated group included its access to industry leading logistics expertise, brokerage services, Global QA and Regulatory support and local, on-the-ground, expertise within each region via the Fisher Clinical Services wholly-owned global footprint.

1. Facility network
The Sponsor recognized that the Fisher Clinical Services fully-owned network of cGMP facilities strategically located across the globe was unparalleled in the industry. This network of owned facilities linked through a common IT platform and global logistics SOPs, augmented by an extensive third party depot network, would offer the Sponsor a comprehensive footprint capable of receiving, storing and distributing clinical supplies to any location across the globe.

The capacity and specialty storage and handling conditions available at the cGMP sites assured the Sponsor flexibility in servicing multiple studies with varying IMP requirements, including the capability to manage scheduled and temperature-controlled drugs. Fisher Clinical Services’ on-site labeling capabilities introduced another level of flexibility not provided by other potential partners.

2. Unique, innovative logistics expertise
The Fisher Clinical Services unique and innovative solution, Total Transportation Management Service, includes complete oversight of the supply chain processes required to move IMP shipments internationally and within the country of destination, including:

  • Courier selection and management
  • Customs and regulatory guidance
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Oversight of third party depot shipments
  • Global quality assurance support
  • Proactive track and trace of all shipments

Fisher Clinical logistics experts worked on a dynamic model of courier selection, using the data to allow them to choose the most effective courier based upon raw performance data. The solution was built on a fixed cost model allowing the Sponsor to receive preferential standard and premium freight rates, preferential global facility and depot rates and fixed fuel surcharges which helped them predict and manage their project and department costs.

Project Management and Logistics experts:

  • Analysed trial protocols
  • Consulted up-to-date logistics knowledge database
  • Evaluated data on couriers
  • Applied data driven objectivity to route & courier choice
  • Defined supply chain strategies to achieve maximum % of OTIF shipments & to realize cost efficiencies

Resources were dedicated to tracking and measuring courier performance over time with the ability to provide reports and updates in real-time to the Sponsor. This type of enhanced visibility, enabled by Fisher Clinical Services proprietary systems, allowed Sponsor teams around the world to understand the status of their shipments and to validate performance statistics based on a common set of measurements and matched to actual investigator site delivery. This data driven objectivity was considered unique in this industry.

In addition, clear metrics were defined. The objective of this data driven approach was to maximize the On-Time- In-Full (OTIF) receipts and reduce the overall costs while mitigating risk across the supply chain.

3. Investigator site support
The Global Logistics Helpdesk teams based in Allentown, PA, USA and Horsham, UK were made available 24/5 to the Sponsor’s global teams and to investigator sites across the globe, providing proactive track and trace reporting on all supplies. The level of service offered to the investigator sites was particularly high with a can-do attitude and the ability to intervene if shipments were at risk of not being delivered at the right time, to the right place, and in the right conditions.

Changes to original transportation strategy
One key impactful change to the Sponsor’s transportation strategy was a new approach to courier selection. It was decided that all couriers would now be monitored through the Fisher Clinical Services Global Logistics Helpdesk. All clinical shipments across all routes and regions would be analysed in detail. The on-time performance of 20+ couriers across 120+ countries would be monitored not only for OTIF results but also for cost of service.

This new and novel approach recommended:

  • To use the most effective Integrator couriers where there would be no performance degradation
  • To evaluate and use the most effective Premium couriers with specialist brokers to maintain chain of custody in transit

This data-driven courier selection would significantly optimize cost and performance efficiencies for this Sponsor.

The results were phenomenal
The results showed significant cost savings were achieved year-on-year. Previously the Sponsor would send circa 32% of its clinical shipments via Premium Courier. The data driven objectivity applied by Fisher Clinical Services reduced this % of premium courier shipments to just 7% which resulted in significant cost savings of circa $10.2m per year. More importantly there was no degradation in performance. In fact, it improved across the supply chain. OTIF % increased from 93% to 97%, which is a win-win situation for the Sponsor and the patients.

Over time the Sponsor teams have become well versed in the breadth of services provided by the extensive global Fisher Clinical Services network of facilities. The Sponsor has been able to expand its reach through leveraging Fisher Clinical Services’ footprint and local expertise to guarantee delivery to any site in the world, including remote and challenging locations.

Meaningful KPI reporting and analysis has enabled a culture of continuous performance amongst the Fisher Clinical Services logistics team and the Sponsor team. Now that global processes have been standardized from study initiation through to returns and destruction, the clinical trial transportation strategy is a smooth one. In addition, the Sponsor’s investigator sites and CROs have access to the Global Logistics Helpdesk to track and trace all shipments. This means that the Sponsor can focus on other high value activities, i.e. developing innovative medicines that will impact patients’ lives.

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