Carolina Galicia
Country Manager
World Courier
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Speacialized Logistics Support Clinical Trial Growth

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 13:24

Q: What sort of increased demand have you been seeing for logistic services for the clinical trial industry?

A: Mexico plays a major role in clinical research because of its strategic location. The country has grown in research infrastructure and has a suitable population for performing clinical trials. One of the reasons pharmaceutical manufacturers shifted their interests to Latin America is that they need large urban zones for these tests, and Mexico is among the largest. Global pharmaceutical companies have carried out more than 5,000 clinical trials in Latin America and 2,000 in Mexico. This is an area in which we can grow and host more studies. When clinical trials began in Mexico, international pharmaceuticals were reluctant to perform these tests in Latin America but this perception has definitely changed. There are increasing requests to transfer biological samples from Mexico to the US and Europe. I believe Mexico is doing well and that there is a good impression of clinical trials here. There may be some budgetary obstacles as pharmaceutical industries have reduced their budgets and the prices of these clinical trials are increasing. Even so we are prepared to receive more studies from international pharmaceuticals.

Q: How does World Courier manage problems that might arise when transporting a sample?

A: Biological samples are extremely susceptible to external conditions, such as heat and humidity. They are also time sensitive and long periods in transportation may irreparably damage them. For these reasons shipments of these samples can be heavily affected by environmental concerns. To avoid delays caused by bad weather we do not consolidate shipments. This way if a flight is canceled by bad weather we can easily modify the route. We also have to deal with customs. Mexico has relatively good importation and exportation guidelines for health related shipments, in comparison to the rest of Latin America. We work closely with authorities in order to avoid delays. Our aim is to be more than just a service provider but also a partner so that we can instruct companies on the proper procedures. They provide the sample and we supply all the elements that are needed for packaging and transportation. We have qualified packages for most samples. Packaging is often very specific depending on the sample and the conditions it must be kept in, since some samples must be frozen or must undergo specific preconditions before shipping.

Q: Do you have to provide additional permits to those of COFEPRIS?

A: There is legislation that defines imports and exports in Mexico. Companies can choose to get these permits for exports and imports but this is a slow process. We try to remain close to health and custom authorities to avoid miscommunication and facilitate the process. World Courier can also help companies to obtain the necessary permits. In these cases we would expect authorities to consider the sensitivity of the products as long periods of transportation might irreparably damage them. We believe they must simplify the process, as the integrity of some studies may be impaired if the samples cannot be sent on time.

Q: Are there major differences in the transportation of biotechnological drugs and smaller molecules?

A: Transporting biotechnological drugs involves more complexity. Our employees are trained professionals who are aware of the proper procedures for managing these delicate samples and we are always trying to improve our services. With critical biological samples we have to evaluate all the risks and closely monitor the situation. There is also an increasing demand for our services, since research clusters are developing in Mexico, for example in Queretaro and Jalisco. So far World Courier has not faced problems ensuring coverage and our sales department is continuously working on strategies to cover this increasing demand.

Q: What kind of innovations do you have to work on in order to stay ahead of the competition?

A: We have an IT team that keeps all our systems updated and keeps track of all shipments and a team of experts in cold chain and packaging who ensure that we are utilizing the latest technology. Currently we use vacuum insulated panels (VIP) and phase change materials (PCM) produced in Germany. A team constantly analyzes the best options for packaging to ensure cost effectiveness. There are suppliers in Mexico with similar products but we have very specific requirements. We also ensure that every product arrives precalibrated by suppliers to minimize problems and save time.