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Marken mulls direct-to-study participant distribution

By Gareth Macdonald , 14-May-2012

Marken is looking at setting up a home delivery service as a further expansion of its clinical trial and logistics offering. 

The new service would send candidate pharmaceuticals direct to study participants' homes, rather than to central sites in an approach designed to accommodate innovative research models such as Pfizer’s  REMOTE virtual trial .

Ariette van Strien, senior VP of commercial ops at Marken, cited the study as a driver, telling Outsourcing-pharma.com “Pfizer has already launched their first direct to patient trials and we see more and more demand coming through.”

She added that: "We have already conducted a limited number of trials in some countries, but are now working to evaluate the network globally. We cannot commit to a final timeline as each country will have its specific legal and regulatory requirements, but it is a key initiative for Marken.”

Pharma full service fit

Marken has been steadily expanding its service offering over the last year, extending its global reach with new depots in Latin America  and India , launching an online inventory and logistics tool  and – earlier this month  – acquiring LabCorp’s sampling kit business.

These investments are part of an effort to transform Marken from a sample courier into a supply chain services provider  and are necessary to keep pace with the changing demands of the life sciences sector, according to van Strien.

There is always a space to offer just logistics, however it seems clear that a larger range of services would better fit the need of the pharma industry” she told Outsourcing-pharma.com.

van Strien added that: “As the market is changing with biologics increasing in Phase II and III, the supply chain becomes more complex pushing pharma and CROs to look for full supply chain solutions allowing them to focus on their core business.”

Competition

Marken’s transformation comes at a time of increasing competition in the supply chain and trial logistics services sector. In the last year alone UPS has bolstered its pharma offering with the acquisition of TNTDHL has invested in capacity in China  and FedEx has launched a temperature-controlled shipping service .

Similarly, World Courier – which was recently acquired by AmerisourceBergen  – has been adding capacity, opening new distribution depots in Turkey  and Argentina .

But while this means Marken faces stiff competition – particularly from World Courier – the firm is confident it has found a winning strategy according to van Strien, who said: “With the expanded offering as well as the sole focus on the Life Science Industry our company is as well working in areas World Courier does not offer its services.”

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