Stop Wasting Lab Kits

Some of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had are with the coordinators and research assistants stationed at the front lines of clinical trials.

Don’t get me wrong — clinical research is a team sport. From drug developers to data managers (and every role in between) it takes a huge amount of effort from very brilliant and capable people to pull a drug through discovery to commercialization.

But amazing things happen at the places where coordinators and research assistants do their work. This where patients are often diagnosed. These are places of tears, of patience, and hope. Study site staff build strong, personal relationships with their patients. To them a patient is more than just an enrollment in a trial, it’s a person.

Our team at Slope recently conducted an expansive global survey of study sites so we could better understand the challenges that study sites face. For those of you that don’t know our work, we specialize in improving study site efficiency through lab kit management. Here is what we found:

  • 80% of study sites are oversupplied with lab kits.
  • 75% of study sites routinely experience lab kit outages.
  • 88% of study sites report problems enrolling & retaining patients because they are sent the wrong amount of lab kits.
It’s time to stop wasting clinical trial lab kits

All of these problems stem from an inability to balance lab kit supply with study site demand. Sponsors, CRO’s, and Central Labs are overwhelmingly ignorant of the inefficiency and waste that poor lab kit management creates. Auto-resupply, the industry’s most innovative solution to date, is a huge contributor to the problem.

In our study site survey we also left space for an open comment. We got an overwhelming amount of feedback from site coordinators and research assistants across the globe. Here are some of the best comments:

  • Managing all the lab kits takes time away from actual participant care. It makes me less efficient, which hits my PI’s bottom line.
  • We receive way too many kits at start up and then have too many expire before we can use them.
  • It’s a pain not having enough lab kits to screen patients or having all expired kits when a patient visit occurs.
  • Labs that have automatic re-supply always send way more than needed.
  • It’s embarrassing when I have to reschedule a patient because of the lab kits (they have not arrived, or the laboratory sent wrong containers, etc).
  • My central lab is not resupplying according to subjects enrolled. Because of this kit shortages occur and when you order kits I’m sent two times what I ordered.
  • The amount of supplies that are sent is ever increasing, leaving us with space issues as well as difficultly tracking supply.
  • The overwhelming volume of kits that we receive makes it difficult to stay on top of expiration dates and organization.
  • Some sponsors send us supplies we do not need or request (50+ excess thermal shippers); some sponsors deny us lab kits requested; some lab kits take too long to arrive to the site; some sponsors have issues sending supplies to the correct address.
  • Too many kits sent at start up and then expired prior to being used.
  • We don’t have enough space for lab kits. It is difficult to explain to the rest of the clinic staff why all “my” supplies are in every closet.
  • We receive too many supplies, most lab kits we get expire and never get used. A lot of clutter and waste.
  • We oversee over 200 studies and it is a challenge to keep our inventory stocked and up to date.
  • The labs send re-supply but they don’t track expiration and resupply and they don’t track insufficient supply.
  • Kits come in oversized boxes and stuffed with clinical supplies that we will never use, taking up a lot of real estate.
  • I hate having to remember to check the stock, and then remember to re-order the stacks of expired kits I have set aside.
  • Way too many lab kits are sent to our site at the beginning of a study. Most of these kits that are sent end up being thrown out, and they expire by the time we’re ready to use them. The labs often will send extra supplies as well when we order a kit, such as urine cups, shippers, etc… that we have not requested.
  • We are always struggling to find space for the supplies for our multitude of trials.
  • With automatic resupply we either get to much or not enough. And with too much then we have the issue of expired kits.
  • I hate the fact that I have to check multiple places to get an accurate inventory count.
  • My life would be a lot more simple if sponsors would help a little with the management of supplies
  • When we have a lot of studies the lab kits get very confusing because there are so many different ones for different visits. And they all expire at different times. It makes keeping track very time consuming and frustrating.
  • It’s frustrating discovering at the last minute that we do not have all the kits we need for a visit.
  • Our lab kits are kept in different areas and this becomes confusing when we need to track them down. Also, our site coordinators forget to update spreadsheet when they have used a kit. Kits are not ordered in time and sometimes we have outages.
  • Sponsors often send more lab kits than we need, which eventually expire, and requires time to take kits apart and discard sharps, etc.
  • I am unable to always remember the exact amount of supplies I need.
  • We are shipped supplies before our study is activated and before alerting staff. Often, we are sent kits for more patients than we have contracted to enroll and are sent kits for the entire study duration (even if the study is going to run 6+ months).
  • It’s hard keeping up with number of kits needed and making sure they are reordered.
  • I’m tired of not having enough control to tell the kit shipping company that we don’t need as many as they’re sending. Not being able to turn down kits that are received before we even have SIV.
  • Waste - often kits have only one tube expiring and the whole kit has to be discarded. Labs that don’t use bulk supply kits or allow for tube replacement are very wasteful.
  • Due to lack of space most of our lab supplies are kept on a different floor of our offices or even across the street at the clinic which can be time consuming and very inconvenient to track down. We also have to worry about others taking our supplies without knowledge or permission.
  • For one study I have to beg for lab kits. I have had other studies that I have too many.
  • I feel often that I am supporting some sort of backroom empire where someone is making a ton of money selling kits to a sponsor that sites will never use. Sponsors never see this and sites are so busy they hardly complain or have an apparatus to do so.

Pretty amazing feedback, don’t you think?