Transformational Change To The Supply Chain

January 10, 2020 | When it comes to improving supply chain, Matthew Moyer says thinking big is the only way to enable transformational change. "Don't just think about incremental improvements to your existing supply chain. Start from a blank slate."

Moyer has 16 years of pharmaceutical development experience and is Director of Clinical Supply Technology for Merck, serving as the central point of contact for all of Merck’s clinical supply innovation efforts, leading the incorporation of new packaging, labeling, distribution, and other enabling technologies to drive more informed and timely decisions related to the conduct of clinical trials.

On behalf of Clinical Research News, Hannah Loss recently discussed with Moyer the patient-centric trial supply chain, its advantages, and how to keep improving.

Editor’s Note: Hannah Loss, a conference producer at Cambridge Healthtech Institute, is planning a conference dedicated to Clinical Supply Management at the upcoming SCOPE Summit in Orlando, February 18-21. Moyer will be speaking on the program; their email conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Clinical Research News: Where does your current position fall along the patient-centric trial supply chain?

Matt Moyer: My current position spans the breadth of a patient-centric clinical supply chain. I work on technologies to help enable remote trial participation, patient engagement, and remote patient monitoring. I also work on packaging, labeling, and distribution technologies to improve the supply chain, and the flexibility and availability of clinical supplies.

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced/are facing in your supply chain logistics?

The biggest challenge that we're facing is the preponderance of supplies with extreme temperature control requirements. We see a significant uptick in products that require deep frozen storage and distribution prior to use. These products require novel solutions in order to ensure viability of the product up until time of dosing. And we need to know in real-time what conditions the product is being exposed to, so that we can act immediately if the product is being exposed to adverse conditions that may impact its viability.

And on the other side, what’s the biggest success or benefit that you’ve experienced in your work from better supply chain processes and management?

The willingness to think outside of the box and consider solutions that have not previously been used in the clinical space (or even in the pharmaceutical industry), but may be actively used in other consumer-facing industries. The targeted application of these approaches and technologies will allow us to fully reshape our supply chain, with a focus on maximizing supply flexibility and improving convenience for patients participating in our trials.

In your view, is there a critical point along the supply chain that has the most impact on clinical trials?

The final leg of the journey for supplies (depot to site, or potentially depot directly to patient) is the most critical, as it's the step in which we have the least amount of control, and also the leg that has most impact on end user.

What advice would you give to stakeholders looking to streamline their clinical supply?

Don't just think about incremental improvements to your existing supply chain. Start from a blank slate, and define what your ideal future state is. Then, explore or design tools to enable that newly imagined future state. This is the only way to enable truly transformational changes.