This week, Clinical Trials Arena will be shining a spotlight on cold chain logistics as part of December’s ‘Cold Chain Week.’ Running throughout the week of Dec. 4, 2017, CTA will post articles uncovering the most pressing issues facing the clinical supply chain.

Be sure to visit CTA later today when Nico Hoeler of TEC4MED LifeScience explores the advances being made in home-based clinical trials. We also have a feature from Antra Krumina (Astra Logistic), who examines logistical considerations for the Central Asian region. Additionally, Manuel Zollondz (Logistics4Pharma) describes to CTA Editor Henry Kerali the challenges in finding the right packaging solution for clinical supplies.

Later in the week, experts such as Russell Brierley (Lupin Research) and Hedley Rees (PharmaFlow) will provide their insights on matters concerning room temperature controlled shipments and the temperature sensitive supply chain. As you can tell, a full range of topics will be given the spotlight on CTA this week, so don’t miss out!

But first, catch up on some of CTA’s most recent stories delving into the challenges concerning the cold chain… (click on the headline to finish reading).

Industry Viewpoints: The Pros and Cons of Using Different Transport Methods

There are many considerations that go into deciding which mode of freight transport is the right fit for your trial. A lot depends on various factors, such as the material you’re shipping, timelines, temperature maintenance, and of course, the cost.

Over a six-month period, Arena International quizzed various supply professionals (all of whom are anonymous) to see what they think is the best way to transport clinical trial materials.

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Intriguingly, their answers were varied, but telling…

Clinical Trials Arena: What considerations do you take into account when deciding to transport clinical supplies by plane versus by ship or by road?

Senior Clinical Supply Manager, based in Germany: In my experience, it’s rare that we send anything by ship and that’s largely down to time frame. For instance, to transport anything over the Atlantic could take around four to six weeks, and that’s definitely too long. Ordinarily, anything we transport over the Atlantic or the Pacific is by plane. The last mile, of course, is done by truck. Nevertheless, every shipment we send is controlled at either two to eight or two to 25 degrees. So in all instances, they are in isolated cardboard boxes.

Investigating Challenges Faced Within the Vaccine Clinical Supply Chain

The last few decades have witnessed the globalization of clinical trials with 100,000 clinical trials conducted in 180 countries. This proves there are great opportunities for improving the efficiency of the drug development process.

Global trials are beneficial to patients who hope to participate in clinical research and to obtain treatments that would otherwise not be available to them due to their financial constraints. Emerging regions, like China, Brazil and South Africa, have a wealth of treatment-naïve patients, which can be rare in the United States or in Western Europe.

In the wake of recent outbreaks (e.g. Ebola, Zika), the need to respond quickly cannot be overstated. Vaccines are temperature-sensitive biologics with special handling and transportation needs. Over time, they can become less effective or even damaged if they are: frozen, allowed to get too hot (repeated exposures have cumulative effect), and exposed to direct sunlight or fluorescent light.

Exploring Sea Freight as a Viable Option for Transporting Supplies

Once a worldwide study is underway, ensuring that each site is well stocked with trial materials is the number one priority for any supply chain professional. There are numerous factors that go into a successful shipment that unaccounted for could have huge implications on the outcome of a trial. Within the industry, air freight has long been the common mode of transport for moving bulk supplies. But in recent times, sea freight has been championed as a viable option, despite common misperception that it is perhaps outdated and too time consuming.

In recent times, there’s been an apparent shift in approach to move from air freight to sea. In the bid to cut costs and streamline practices, however, experts argue that your sea freight strategy has to be just as robust as your air freight approach. Indeed, many things can go wrong in a sea freight shipment, so while it may be the cheaper option, you still have to plan for the worst.

Arena International therefore spoke to Chris Jones, Distribution Manager, R&D Supply Chain at AstraZeneca. Having responsibility for handling all trial materials, Jones has a wealth of experience dealing with the logistics of the clinical supply chain. In this interview, he discusses what factors need to be considered when determining sea freight as a viable option for bulk shipments.