Near-sourcing should always be the first option. It saves money, improves efficiently and adds value to the local biopharma industry. There’s nothing not to like.
Near-sourcing drugs for trials – you might be surprised by what’s in your own backyard.
The good news: Australia is a high-value and desirable destination for clinical trials. In 2013, 681 clinical trials were commenced in Australia. A comprehensive analysis by MTPConnect, an organisation which aims to accelerate the commercialisation growth of the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sector in Australia, shows that as a country, we rank 10th in the world for the total number of new trials per year1.
The bad news: The Australian biopharma sector frequently fails to appreciate or investigate the value of accessing the supply for pharmaceutical from the local manufacturing sector and by default, source reference material from overseas. ‘It’s a relatively common fact that many pharmaceuticals used in standard therapy in clinical trials can be sourced much closer to home and be cheaper and faster to supply’ said George Vlachos, pharmaceutical executive at Akesa. ‘This ultimately reduces the cost of trials and supports the local biopharma manufacturers.’
Why go wide?
In clinical trial product procurement, it’s not uncommon for pharmaceutical companies to overextend themselves in their search for product, relying on international networks to source their trial products. While the identical comparator product or ingredient may be found right here, in Australia, for far less logistical and financial strain. Sourcing comparator drugs and products from around the globe and transporting them to trial sites, navigating the minutiae of quarantine, transport and storage can be not only logistically difficult, but it can also drain financial and human resources, diverting the focus from getting a trial underway.
‘We recently had a case of a client who was trying to source and procure a large supply of a drug for a head-to-head trial and had gone searching overseas sites, picking up a batch here and a batch there. Procuring batches from different jurisdictions and navigating quarantine and customers in each country would have been a nightmare to manage,’ said George Vlachos. ‘We knew of a large quantity of the drug this client was looking for was located in Australia and could access the supply within days’.
‘Sometimes clients aren’t aware that many products are available in Australia, nor that Australia can be an alternative source of product.’ Being, able to adapt to an alternative presentation, dosage or packaging can mean the difference between sourcing on time and on budget – or not.
Understanding local biopharma manufacturing capabilities is crucial to locating the best comparator pharmaceutical products for global clinical trials projects. Australia is an agile and competitive destination for quality clinical trial drug manufacturing and sourcing.
Medicines and vaccines are two of Australia’s largest manufactured exports. We are also currently the twelfth largest market in the world for medicines and vaccines.1 Though Australia is by no means a major target market for the multinational pharma companies, there are several manufacturers with significant capacity, generating innovator and generic medicines. Australia is also one of the most trusted markets for the manufacture of safe and reliable medicines, which reinforces security of supply, particularly regarding supplying Asian markets.
Near sourcing should always be considered as of the first options in the clinical trial planning process – whether it be talent, sites or materials. There is a wealth of knowledge in Australia to help companies and research organisations to identify and procure medicines for studies. Sometimes the right resources are literally under our noses – the trick is just knowing who to ask.
1 Medicines Australia. Fact Book #4. 2016. Pg 12.