Updated on 12 October 2015
Mr Kevin Cheong, director, Clinical Operations, Asia, Almac
The number of biopharmaceutical clinical trials either being conducted or organized in the Asia Pacific region is increasing every year. In 2014, 23 per cent of clinical trials were conducted in Asia Pacific, and that percentage is destined to climb. The region offers a multitude of treatment-naïve patients - India and China's populations alone are sufficient to sustain virtually any trial, and overall trial costs are generally lower than in other regions.
A number of challenges can arise when conducting clinical trials in the Asia Pacific region, with little margin for error. As in other regions, supply chain managers must cope with complex protocols, short timelines for patient enrolment, strict regulations that vary across countries and cross-vendor alignment. In addition, they must contend with multiple languages, the need for round-the-clock support, a lack of trend data on which to forecast demand, and logistical challenges in transporting and distributing investigational products.
To achieve efficiencies, pharmaceutical companies are turning to advanced technology, improved processes and flexible outsourcing models.
Conducting trials in APAC - A New Outsourcing Model
To manage and support the clinical supply chain, pharmaceutical companies have long relied on multiple outsourcing partners - each offering expertise in one aspect of the process or one local market. However, that practice tends to replace one type of complexity with another. In such situations, trial managers are forced to become ringleaders, devoting considerable time to developing separate service agreements and financial terms with each contracting party, facilitating communication between partners and ensuring smooth hand-offs between entities.