Seven Deadly Sins of Trial Supply Management: We’re All On The Same Team…

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By Alan Morton

Trial Supply Manager

Supply chain logistics can make or break a clinical trial. In many cases, failure to provide and manage trial supplies on time has resulted in costly delays. So how does a CRO partner work with a sponsor to ensure supplies are properly managed?

Over the next few weeks, stay tuned to PSI On Point to learn about “seven deadly sins” of trial supply management, brought to you by PSI Trial Supply Manager, Alan Morton.

Last week, we looked at the deadly sin of being lazy. Don’t forget – there’s no time to chill out and “sloth” around when a clinical trial is going on!

This week, we’re diving back in and looking at our fifth warning sign… wrath….

Wrath (That timeline is not acceptable! Put your CEO on the phone and he’ll make things happen faster!)

Ruining partnerships over unreasonable timelines? We can fix that. 

Vendors are generally open and honest about what they can achieve. In fact, we can most often trust their transparency, responsiveness, and availability. It’s a partnership, a team effort.

But when all the slack – all of the reasonable timelines and grace periods – is taken out of a project plan before it has really begun, vendors aren’t able to work through a contingency plan or catch up if there are problems in the project. If there are any errors, delays become eminent…

Can Delays Be Managed?

Delays can arise from a multitude of areas and aren’t limited to just a few ordeals. Bulk drug orders can be delivered to the packaging facility late, label text can take longer than expected to be finalized, typhoons and volcanoes can disrupt shipping lanes, customs can open supplies to inspect the contents, and the list goes on and on. And while some of these issues can be anticipated and planned for, many are unforeseeable.

Set Your Partners Up For Success

Allowing the vendor time to manage production and distribution directly correlates to the amount of time a vendor has to correctly assess and mitigate against risks. As such, vendors have a greater chance of getting the supplies where they need to be on time. With a properly built timeline, that means that sites and patients are able to receive their supplies by the actual time those supplies are needed.

Setting appropriate timelines and properly assessing risks is a huge factor in eliminating any potential “wrathful” behavior. Because every aspect of trial supply management involves multiple teams, we always need to remember the keyword: team. Because as we mentioned before, it’s a partnership. It’s a team effort.

The Final Key: Realistic Timelines

Wrath on either side of the vendor partnership is a deadly sin to fall into, and one that could ruin both the current study and potential studies. When we’re close to strict deadlines, it’s easy to overreact, demand a phone call with a boss or two, and get stuck in a wrathful mindset. But by creating realistic timelines, this behavior is immediately mitigated. Timelines are ensured, and the sites and patients – again, as noted before – are able to rely on the true timelines.

We might not be able to predict a typhoon, late deliveries, or volcanic lava sweeping through a shipping lane. But we can build a few extra days into our own project schedule on the backend, to ensure supplies are delivered by the agreed upon date from the outset. Whether it’s a CRO, sponsor, or additional vendor, the deadly sin of wrath, can indeed, become extinct.

Next In The Series

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin to avoid, and find out how a CRO can partner with vendors on behalf of sponsors to ensure trial supplies aren’t just an aspect of the project, but a successful arm of the product. Hint: next week, we’re remembering that, in fact, we don’t know everything……

Alan Morton, Trial Supply Manager

Alan has been working in the logistics and supply chain arena for almost 30 years and has spent the last 7 working for market-leading drug supply and packaging vendors supporting studies all over the world.