Bayer Pilots Platform Turning Surplus Clinical Trial Kits Into Donations

By Deborah Borfitz

January 11, 2022 | The scalable, not-for-profit technology platform Kits4Life is helping the clinical trial community divert unused and excess study supplies to healthcare organizations around the world that are qualified to accept humanitarian aid. In doing so, the cross-sector initiative has turned the “meaningless act” of destroying the surplus into an impactful gesture of corporate social responsibility and sustainability while sparing sites the task of breaking down the kits, according to sustainability champion Donna Libretti Cooke, J.D., director of contracting and budgeting at Bayer.

In a pilot of Kits4Life for two large clinical trials, sites were “thrilled” to be saved the time they would otherwise spend disassembling the kits and appreciated the opportunity to contribute to their own sustainability goals, she says. For the 200-plus sites involved in the pilot, the only effort required at study close was to put the unused supplies in a box and complete a donation form.

From these initial studies, Kits4Life reports receiving 166 shipments. Nearly 3,000 kits were donated in total.

Excess urine analyzers provided to the sites were pegged for donation to Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, Bayer’s accredited Medical Surplus Recovery Organization collaborator, and Kits4Life partner LabCorp Drug Development donated the consumable test strips to go with them, Cooke continues. Some of these items made their way to health clinics in Kenya and Tanzania, along with Bayer-donated recruitment and retention materials such as tote bags.

Since 2019, the initiative has used reverse supply chain logistics to generate donations (provided by all Kits4Life partners) impacting nearly 14,000 lives, she reports. Detailed analytics around the Bayer pilot study will be shared during a presentation for the Clinical Supply Management track of the 2022 Summit for Clinical Ops Executives (SCOPE).

Through the pilot, sites came to understand that sponsors lack the wherewithal to warehouse all the usable supplies that remain at the end of their studies, says Greg Folz, CCRP, founder of Kits4Life. A survey of some of its partner sites, across 25 studies, suggests that it takes between four and five hours to break down the kits and the task is not without risk since some of the items are considered hazardous waste.

Concerns expressed by sites about the senselessness of the situation prompted formation of Kits4Life more than five years ago, says Folz. The program is run by the MedSurplus Alliance (MSA), a program of the Task Force for Global Health. MSA’s mission is to engage and inspire cross-sector medical donation stakeholders to develop standards-based donation practices that advance quality donations and protect the environment.  

MedSurplus Alliance ensures that Kits4Life is a standards-based donation program and driven by evidence-based decision-making, says Josh Kravitz, who coordinates the program. “[Based on its data], we know some of the hardest-to-fill needs can be supplied through the Kits4Life program.”

Bayer had not yet rolled out its corporate responsibility goals when Bayer Vice President Mark Ryan, head of site management for The Americas, helped introduce the Kits4Life program to the company, says Cooke. Now that both are in place, gathering data for internal reporting purposes has been virtually effortless. 

“The sites just indicate how many kits they’re donating, and Hospital Sisters verifies everything,” Cooke says. “We can easily pull data in terms of quantity, the pounds, and the estimated value. All I have to do is provide that report to our corporate donations folks, and we are able to make estimates for two years at a time [based on our experience in the pilot].”

In November, Bayer’s industry-leading effort with the Kits4Life program was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation with its Annual Citizen Award in the Best Health and Wellness category. It is among the most prestigious honors in corporate citizenship.

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