Innovara Digest: Dealing with Drug Waste
Drug waste is making the news again with the release of the NPR story Drug Companies Make Eyedrops Too Big, and You Pay for the Waste. The article revives a 1992 American Journal of Ophthalmology study in which researchers determined that eye drops 1/3 – ½ the size of a normal drop are sufficient, even preferable, for patients. Last year, CNN, the New York Times, and others published articles on drug waste. This week’s Innovara Digest visits ways to reduce drug waste at all points in the supply chain.
- Repackaging: Joel Wayment, VP of Operations at Cardinal Health 3PL, recommends that you find a distribution partner with repackaging capabilities. This way, rather than having to dispose of or destroy product, you can convert them to samples.
- Sell a variety of vial sizes: A 2016 BMJ study reported that $1.8 billion worth of the top 20 cancer drugs is discarded. Selling drugs in a variety of vial sizes allows providers to combine them to reach the target dose. The researchers estimated that doing so would cut the drug waste from $1.8 billion to $400 million.
- Localized customization: To lessen the chance of damaging packaging or labeling in shipment and handling, Tony Street, Senior Director of Clinical Trial Supplies and Logistics at Parexel recommends “just-in-time labeling”.
- Revisit the supply chain: Companies in the rare disease space have been cutting down on drug waste by rethinking their approach to the supply chain. Enrique Diloné, SVP Technical Operations at Amicus Therapeutics, commented, “We start with the patient and work upstream through the supply chain, focusing on service and agility…building in late-stage customization and flexibility is a key element.”
- 3D Printing: The 2015 FDA approval of Spiritam (levetiracetam), the first 3D-printed medicine, opened up a world of possibilities. MM&M reports that the technology not only enables new pill shapes and coatings, but it allows precise amounts of medication to be printed at the point of need.
- Rethink the drug delivery system: Earlier this month, Pharmaceutical Technology published two articles on the pros and cons of various delivery systems: Choosing Capsules: A Primer, and A Closer Look at Prefilled Syringes. The former article champions liquid-filled hard capsules as being lower waste, as they are stable and moisture-resistant. The latter article asserts that prefilled syringes reduce waste and improve safety by “reducing the potential for contamination, needle stick injuries, and dosing errors.”
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