Clinical trial waste is really getting out of hand, and study sites around the world are feeling the effects. Today we explore the unintended consequences of lab kit over (and under) supply.
Joy Jurnack, an ACRP Academy Board of Trustee, Research Nurse, and Patient Advocate, did a wonderful job framing the challenges study sites face from lab kit oversupply. While pre-packaged kits can be a time saver for busy clinical research coordinators, excess inventory creates tremendous waste, takes up precious space in supply closets, and hurts site efficiency.
In the daily chaos of a clinical trial, it’s easy for systemic issues like oversupply to become the status quo. “I wish my sponsor had to spend a few hours in my shoes,” says the overworked coordinator, “so they could see how things really work.”
Complacency is also to blame. Antiquated kit reorder forms, countless vendor portals, long lead times, and the endless back-and-forth communications required to process even the simplest of resupply requests — these factors all contribute to site headache and inefficiency.
I’ve found that the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is helpful way to frame the problem that study sites face with clinical trial inventory management:
Send too much inventory to a site, and staff there spend precious time managing the oversupply.
Send too little inventory, and research activities grind to a halt.
The goal is to balance the amount of inventory that is sent to a study site with the amount they need so that everything is just right.
Like snowflakes, every study site is different. Treating each site like the next is the central reason that clinical research coordinators struggle so much with managing their inventory.
Balancing supply and demand is surprisingly difficult to do, but the key to solving this problem is opening the channels of communication and providing an easy way for everyone to see what each site needs. Jurnack was absolutely correct in her blog commentary when she suggested that input from all sides is the only way to “synchronize this basic aspect of drug research and development between sites, sponsors, and central labs.”
Then, and only then, can we ensure that “everything is just right” for each and every site struggling to manage their trial inventory.