According to Clinicaltrials.gov, there are almost 180,000 medical studies underway in the US and 187 other countries around the world. The globalization of these studies has resulted in the need for a safe, secure and efficient supply chain. As such, the supply chain management of these clinical trials is one of the most important factors for success, particularly those with cold chain requirements.
Indeed, niche logistics providers offer specialized services for clinical trials, but as the healthcare supply chain continues to globalize international logistics providers such as FedEx, UPS and DHL are offering their own solutions. Included in this list of international logistics providers is TNT which began offering clinical trial logistics services in the early 2000s with the introduction of its Clinical Express service. Ti recently talked with TNT’s Cathy O’Brien, Strategic Account Sector Manager for Clinical Research about the company’s latest solution as well as the market in general.
TNT’s latest offering is a web-based application platform, TNT TrialDat, for clinical trial supply chain management. It is designed to capture end-to-end data on a single platform and offers a dashboard view of clinical material transport movement. According to O’Brien, managing research and development costs is difficult and many clinical trials tend to run over budget. As such, the need to control costs and for visibility in spending is important to allow Doctors and nurses to make better decisions. Updated in real-time, TNT TrialDat allows for this by capturing data beginning with booking and ending with billing for every shipment. Along with this the service provides a variety of report and dashboard options allowing pharmaceutical and clinical trial specialists to focus on what they need to do.
TNT TrialDat is well-placed for a market that is highly regulated, specialized and increasingly globalized. When asked where the growth spots are for clinical trials, O’Brien noted Eastern Europe, Russia, China and Latin America. In fact, China appears to have stagnated whereas Latin America seems to be among the fastest growing regions thanks to a growing consumer base and government adoption of policies to improve healthcare. TNT believes that its road/air network, Clinical Express, is a differentiator for the company.
In fact, when asked what its biggest strengths are, the company not only highlighted its time-definite road/ air network but also its focus on hospitals. Rather than provide a “back door delivery”, it focuses on a departmental approach, delivering to a specific floor, department or to a surgical room. Also, while the company feels its competition takes a more standardized approach to meet clinical trial customer needs, TNT instead provides a more dedicated service. For example, it has over 65 in-country dedicated desks that support in-country requirements and acts as a booking centre.
As TNT’s customers grow, the company helps to determine what markets to expand to and acts as a partner providing logistics expertise. This type of relationship, as well as dedicated solutions for the clinical trial segment, will bode well for the company as it looks to differentiate itself from the competition.