[ID] => 10788
[post_author] => 6150
[post_date] => 2019-03-25 14:41:26
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-25 14:41:26
[post_content] => Bustling stands, colourful backdrops and flashing lights filled the hall at the Clinical Trial Supply Europe 2019 event in Milan last month for two days of discussions, debates and swapping business cards. CTS Europe was celebrating its 20th year and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
Milan was the site of the show for the first time in 2017 and it was an apt choice once again as the manufacturing centre of Italy and a key pharmaceutical hotspot in Europe. Vendors, visitors and speakers fuelled the buzzing atmosphere with conversations around specialist new equipment and thoughts on the future. Always looking to expand and improve, CTS Europe this year had a strong desire to be more inclusive and interactive with several key presentations involving audience participation.
Vendors of all sizes and specialisms were vying for the attention of the crowds to demonstrate what they can bring to the wider conversation within the industry. There has been a large push towards digitalisation and embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) to collect and valorise as much data as possible from all stages of the supply chain. Tables were overflowing with new technologies that can provide the highest-level data collections and shipment security for dozens of specific cargo types.
For businesses needing a specialist container that can be accurately tracked in the middle of a containership in the Pacific, or a piece of tamper-proof equipment that can monitor temperature, pressure and movement, there was a piece of apparatus on show. CTS Europe is one of the finest events to receive first-hand demonstrations of the new equipment and understand how it can contribute to improving the delicate clinical trials supply chain.
SPEAKING TO THE MASSES
A recurring theme across the different presentations was the shift in the last five years or so from single-use to reusable packages. Speakers such as Paul Terry of Peli Biothermal were quick to highlight that a decade ago governments listed environmental impact near the bottom of their priority lists, but now such considerations are usually in the top five. This of course led to a change in the industry towards ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ in an attempt to limit damage to the environment, hence the development of reusable packaging. While there are some difficult logistics to overcome and strict guidelines to adhere to, this has generated some innovative solutions that have increased trade across the supply chain.
Among the topics that were discussed in Milan were the necessity to re-train the recipients of reusable packages to break the routine of throwing things away. This is seen as being of pivotal importance as the financial benefits of investing in reusable packaging cannot be attained if the box is thrown out after only one or two uses - a simple, yet crucial, factor that is easily overlooked.
But, depending on the boxes, certain aspects have a specific shelf life, and what if there’s damage to the container in transit? How do these boxes actually get returned? All of these variables were discussed in length with great interaction with the audience. However, praise was still given to the accessibility of single-use packages, the ease of service they provide, and industry leaders were quick to point out that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. There is a clear shift towards reusable packages, but single use doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
However, an elephant in the room lurked. As boxes are becoming more efficient, smaller, lighter, and can be used repeatedly, it was questioned whether these developments would, ultimately, damage the shipper’s revenues and harm the industry. These fears appeared to be justified as images were presented showing the colossal difference in shipping sizes from only seven years earlier. A stack of fourteen neatly arranged, modern re-usable boxes filled the same space on the pallet as two large water-cooled containers. As shippers traditionally price by weight and size, it is conceivable that the new generation of far more size- and weight-efficient packages could harm their bottom lines.
These fears were quickly laid to rest when graphs demonstrating the drastic increase in shipments were presented. The new packagings mean that producers are saving money per shipment and therefore shipping far more frequently. But graphs do not tell the full story. The conversation was then opened up to the floor to hear real-life experiences from all areas of the supply chain about this change in dynamic. Different experts described how their business structures had moved naturally to accommodate these changes and that they have actually expanded on the whole due to the increase in shipment numbers.
Merck’s Patrick Pichler and Benjamin Geist engaged with the audience in a whole new fashion. With one running around the audience, microphone in hand, the other guided the conversation through a series of questions. Not only were these questions openly debated by the audience but there was also the opportunity to use personal smartphones to actively (and anonymously) vote on different answers. This provided a visual representation of attitudes in the room and further fuelled the debates across the industry. Discussions ranged from the necessity of re-certifying on tried-and-tested routings, the hypothetical risk assessments associated with split shipments, and the old favourite, ‘time versus quality’.
Out in the exhibition, one of the latest developments on show was the new Nelum Box by Tec4Med. Proudly stating to be “the world’s most advanced thermos solution for temperature-sensitive goods”, the Nelum Box is definitely an eye-catching piece of kit. Sleek in appearance with very clear displays, it is perfectly suited as a stationary unit in laboratories or on the move. It is sterile, light, dynamic and an excellent addition to the roster of options.
Increasing the scale was Skycell and its diverse range of products for larger shipments. Skycell has had incredible success with its latest developments, including a 0.1 per cent temperature deviation since launch, earning the title of “safest system on the market”. The Skycell units can store energy for up to 160 hours, cover a variety of temperatures for different environments, and can provide a drastic saving in cost over a lifetime. In addition, continuing from the logistics issues of reusable packages, Skycell will deliver the system to the shipper and collect it from the consignee after use.
Sonoco has been busy providing plenty of access to different styles of packaging because the road from the manufacturing floor to the destination can require several variables that need acute attention. Sonoco offers reusable packagings and is a specialist in temperature assurance when it comes to shipping goods. The flexibility of the products offered by Sonoco ensures that a great range of vaccines, biologics and pharmaceuticals can be transported safely whatever their specific needs.
Aside from the physical containers involved in clinical trials shipments, there was plenty on offer for those seeking more intimate knowledge of the logistics involved in the shipment of pharmaceuticals. Dozens of vendors offering expertise in particular regions and study areas were eager to explain the expansions they could bring to business and plenty of case studies to highlight their successes.
All good events provide a banquet, and CTS Europe did not disappoint. Plenty of tables were set out in the rooms either side of the main hall and the seats quickly filled every time there was a break in the schedule or during lunch. Coffees and teas were in abundance as caffeine-fuelled conversations blossomed across the room. The constant supply of fresh pastries was also highly appreciated. Everything from preferred shipment routes and handlers to speculation about legislation changes in different regions were hotly discussed between mouthfuls.
As was to be expected at a European conference, Brexit was a sure-fire conversation starter. During one of the interactive panel sessions, speakers Alan Kennedy and Marc Sotty focused intensely on the topic, which was particularly relevant as a critical vote in the UK happened only the evening before. During one of the audience participation moments of the talk, a show of hands clearly identified the level of uncertainty in the industry surrounding the implications of Brexit. There was mild optimism that a deal (of some form, no specifics given) would be reached in the next twelve months, but no one was willing to place money on it. It is fair to say that the industry representatives at CTS Europe are decidedly anti-Brexit and the philosophy for cohesion and closer international connections is prominent.
Industry leaders in the audience debated a range of potential outcomes from Brexit, mostly culminating in what the impact a change in trade legislation would mean for the quality of goods, whether shipments would spoil in delays and contemplating if shipments would have to go via Northern Ireland to try and bypass any port issues. Not many people were willing to run the risk of losing precious biospecimens on the back of a lorry caught in a 30-km tailback on the M20.
Next year, CTS Europe will be looking to expand in size and vendors and generate momentum going into its third decade of operation. Perhaps, by 2020, the industry will have an answer to some of the hypothetical questions posed in 2019. Keep an eye on the website
for further information.
[post_title] => Trials: Clinical conversations
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => trials-clinical-conversations
[post_modified] => 2019-03-25 14:44:23
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-25 14:44:23
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[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10788
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