Wastage levels dip in clinical trial supply

Chanice Henry

Clinical trial supply has seen a reduction in wastage rates thanks to smarter integration and alignment with enrollment rates.

Poor planning is a key cause of drug development failure in clinical phases. A lack of experience and professional qualifications within teams can greatly hinder the project’s planning process.

Issues in the drug supply chain can be encountered if enrolment data is not corrected quickly.

In our 2016 report, respondents saw planning and forecasting as critical for supply. However, consensus inferred a lack of time to dedicate to planning, which will have negative consequences on a study.

IVRS and lower wastage levels 

Our 2018 study found that enhanced integration of enrolment data and inventory has positively impacted the overage and wastage levels. This improvement was achieved through the use of Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS) and Interactive Response Technology (IRT) software., with IRT/IVRS software being one of the top spend priorities of the base.

"There is a lot more integration in our supply chains than ever before, which has actually had an impact on our overage and wastage levels.

                           CTS Wastage

Steve Jacobs, Chair, Global Clinical Supplies Group: “There is a lot more integration in our supply chains than ever before, which has actually had an impact on our overage and wastage levels. This is linked to what the enrolment data is at the different sites, so this gives us more visibility.

 “I think the results here break down into large versus smaller to mid-size companies. A lot of large companies use IRT for almost every study and integrate that information into their supply chains and loop in their vendors.

 “As you move to the small and mid-sized companies, and some big pharmas, this process is still not working as well as it should. Mainly this is down to the internal relationship between clinical operations  and clinical supplies and also who actually controls the IRT.


“In some companies, clinical operations control the IRT rather than the clinical supply unit. Typically, when the clinical supply unit is responsible for the IRT, you see much better efficiency and functionality with enrolment data being used to positively affect the supply chain and decrease wastage levels.”

This is decrease encouraging to see as the excessive and wasteful inventory approach often seen in clinical trials is becoming more and more unsustainable in today’s climate.

Planning and forecasting 

The same respondents showed a clear allegiance to using excel spreadsheets for their planning and forecasting with its pivot tables and programming capabilities. However, simulation software can offer clinical studies many more capabilities.

                      Clinical trial Forecasting

The results here show that respondents are yet to see a clear ROI from simulation software which can have a slightly expensive price point. Providers need to evidence how the initial expense will be counteracted by the amount of savings that will occur down the line. Also, this will motivate people to overcome any fears attached to the change management process.

Steve Jacobs noted: “A lot of people are very comfortable with Excel. A number of companies have created detailed pivot tables and programing that allows them to do some amazing planning and forecasting, but they are still not even close to what good simulation software can do.”               

       money pharma pricing

Sophisticated inventory management

The base showed a definite interest in advanced analytics technologies, but failed to indicate a readiness to put money on the table just yet.

Bernard Jaucot, Director Strategic Solutions, Global Clinical Supplies PPD commented: “With technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, the capacities out there are enormous. It is exciting that respondents are looking at these, but from looking at other answers in this research, they don’t seem interested in investing any time soon.

Read more: Clinical Trial Supply 2018 Report: The Quest To Shrink Wastage Levels