Claiming to have the first such service in the clinical logistics industry, Marken (RTP, NC) has started a call center service to coordinate drop-offs and pickups for clinical trial subjects. With the PIC in place, clinical trial sponsors could choose, for example, to write direct-to-patient instructions into the trial protocol, thus providing a higher level of overall trial quality management. When such direct-to-patient services occur in patients’ homes, home-nursing organizations are often involved; Marken says that it will coordinate with those as well. The 24/7/365 call center, called a Patient Interaction Center (PIC), is based in Philadelphia, and case managers are trained in the specialized logistics needs of clinical trial protocols, which need to be followed very exactly to maintain data quality of the trial.
“We have embraced the industry’s focus on patient-centric clinical trials and now consider ourselves a leader in direct to patient services,” said Wes Wheeler, Marken CEO, in a statement. “Marken pioneered direct to patient services five years ago and since then we have gained the trust of our clients because of our commitment to the patient, their confidentiality, and compliance with local data protection laws.”
Direct-to-patient is also an increasingly important component of commercial drug distribution, as specialty products such as biologics in prefilled syringes go direct to patients, especially in chronic care. That is generally the realm of hub service providers and some specialty pharmacies, who would incorporate logistics concerns into an overall patient-support program. There is some overlap between the two: hubs and specialty pharmacies get involved in clinical trial coordination; and the clinical logistics providers (including Marken) are providing some commercial-delivery services.
The service is limited to the US only at this time, although a company spokesperson notes that internationalization could be a natural next step, since Marken makes deliveries in 150 countries, and operates a network of 45 depots and logistics centers around the world. In turn, Marken’s parent, UPS Healthcare Logistics, has been expanding its slate of clinical trial services in recent years.