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How to Optimize Your Clinical Trial Supply Chain

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted problems in the clinical trial supply chain, necessitating a shift in the industry to keep up with the pressure to deliver quick results and market products faster. Clinical trials have become more complex, requiring larger volumes, shorter turnaround times, more procedures, and better documentation. 

Optimizing the clinical trial supply chain can address these challenges, and one of the best ways to do this is by employing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like SAP ERP for Life Sciences by Navigator Business Solutions, the best ERP for the pharmaceutical industry


Problems in the Clinical Trial Supply Chain

Many issues may arise in the clinical trial supply chain, and these setbacks may contribute to increased costs, lowered patient retention, and reduced productivity, threatening the success of clinical trials and drug delivery as a whole. Here are some common problems to keep an eye out for:

Business Concerns

Pharmaceutical companies need to deal with several challenges within their own clinical trial supply chain and testing processes. These include:

  • Supply sourcing and control
  • Planning uncertainties
  • Manufacturing delays
  • Stock control
  • Quality control
  • Shipment delays
  • Packaging issues, including serialization in pharmaceutical packaging
  • Site storage conditions
  • Expiry date management
  • Direct-to-patient delivery

Executing solid strategies can lower the risks of any big roadblocks, but this starts with proper planning and having the right infrastructure that can handle key operations while being accessible and transparent to all stakeholders, such as SAP Business ByDesign for Life Sciences. 

Old vs. New - Medical Device 1ii

Technological Challenges

Multiple information technology (IT) systems are in play during clinical trials, and with the ever-evolving digital landscape, companies need to adapt to tech that can more easily integrate and scale, while still fulfilling their intended purpose. Finding the right equipment is crucial, especially since it requires costly investment.


Changing Regulations

Clinical trials operate under several regulations, and pharmaceutical companies are responsible for making sure that all rules and laws are complied with. These vary per market, which can get complicated when you’re performing tests in different countries. 
It’s the responsibility of the pharmaceutical company to keep up-to-date with regulations; otherwise, there could be bottlenecks that could negatively affect the drug development and commercialization timeline.


How to Optimize the Clinical Trial Supply Chain

To address and mitigate common problems and ensure market success, you must optimize your clinical trial supply chain. Here are some ways to do it:


Create a Supply Strategy

An adequate and effective strategy is the foundation of an optimized clinical trial supply chain–you must create an effective plan by considering all the key steps and anticipating any possible setbacks. Aside from execution (including supply and distribution), be sure to take governance, analysis, and documentation into account, too.


Leverage Forecasting and Analysis

Use data to analyze your processes and results and to forecast the requirements to make your operations more efficient. This will be helpful when you need to predict patient activity and to ensure that you always have sufficient supplies of all of your resources.


Improve Logistics and Operations

Improving the quality of your manufacturing and distribution can reduce deviations and complaints while increasing efficiency. Review your clinical trial supply chain and determine any bottlenecks, and then find solutions to make those steps smoother either by employing new technologies or changing operational steps.


Integrate Scalable Technology

The right technology can drastically affect your clinical trial supply chain, but you must remember to choose equipment and software that are relevant to your operations, and that is flexible, adaptable, and scalable to your growing needs. SAP Business ByDesign from NBS is one of the best systems you can adopt as it helps you integrate all aspects of your process while enabling transparency and accountability from all departments.

Establish External Partnerships

The clinical trial supply chain requires a lot of work and, sometimes, it can be too much for one pharmaceutical company, especially a small one. Don’t be afraid to use pharma commercialization services where needed. Establish relationships with regulation experts (particularly local ones in each market), tech providers, service providers, and other strategic partners to get help in processes that you can’t manage.

Optimize Your Clinical Trial Supply Chain with SAP ERP for Life Sciences

SAP S4HANA Cloud, Public Edition for Research and Development is the best pharmaceutical ERP in the industry. It can help you close gaps in your clinical trial supply chain, optimizing your operations as a whole. 

In the past, clinical trials were mainly done on paper, but recently, companies have integrated Excel spreadsheets and some custom applications. SAP ERP takes it up a notch with scalable solutions that can handle every part of the clinical trial supply chain, from supply to manufacturing to shipping, as well as data forecasting, analysis, and documentation. 

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