To enable CGTs to succeed for young patients at a London area hospital, US-based company Rocket Pharmaceuticals faced a critical challenge. The biotechnology organization needed to rapidly transport time- and temperature-sensitive biospecimens between the hospital in central London and a medical genomics lab based in the Netherlands.
Rocket Pharmaceuticals selected the specialist courier Biocair as its logistics partner to manage the complex supply chain.
Biocair responded effectively with creative problem-solving skills and outstanding customer service.
Applications for CGTs include treating cancers, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases. A highly personalized treatment method, cell and lentiviral-based gene therapy approaches involve extracting cells, proteins or genetic materials (ie. DNA) from the patient and modifying them before re-injecting them into the patient.
Based in New Jersey (US), Rocket Pharmaceuticals is a gene therapy company whose mission is to seek gene therapy cures for patients with rare and devastating diseases.
Rocket works with medical scientists and doctors at many hospitals around the world, among them is an international center of excellence in child healthcare in London.
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Transporting time-sensitive specimens from a London hospital to clinical laboratories in the Netherlands
A fast, reliable clinical shipping service, demonstrating outstanding customer service
In 2021, Rocket sought to partner with a specialist courier to improve its transportation of patient biospecimens. Specifically, it needed to move these delicate shipments quickly and securely between the hospital in the heart of traffic-congested central London, and the clinical laboratories of a CGT manufacturing specialist located in Geleen, across the English Channel in the southeast of the Netherlands.
For such an assignment, Rocket required the services of a specialist courier with in-depth knowledge of temperature-controlled solutions and life sciences logistics, as delays, losses or temperature changes of the materials could threaten patient health.
Crucially, the courier needed to problem-solve around regulatory compliance and customs clearance. As Rocket’s Supply Chain Team explains, “This was because, post ‘Brexit’, the British end of the shipping lane was located outside the European Union’s single market and customs union, while the Dutch destination was inside the EU. This is causing new challenges for many companies.”
Rocket chose to partner with Biocair, a specialist courier with over 35 years of life science logistics experience.
From the start, Biocair went ‘the extra mile’ for Rocket in terms of customer service. When Rocket contacted Biocair, Noah Nixon, Biocair’s CGT Logistics Specialist, was on hand to take the call. “We showed immediately that we are always available to the customer and will give a quick response, which very quickly established a good relationship,” says Nixon.
It was a demanding assignment. Rocket had to qualify this specific clinical shipping lane in great detail before proceeding – including the type of packaging to be used and the route, which had to be driven. We could not divert from those qualifications."
CGT Logistics Specialist, Biocair
Biocair’s standard service for such a shipping lane would allow a delivery time of 48 hours, but in this case, it was being asked to achieve the outward leg in just 15 hours, with pick-up in the early afternoon and drop-off at 7am the following day.
The return leg had to be even quicker, a maximum of 10 hours from 7am, and drop off in the early afternoon. The clinicians warned Biocair, ‘We only have one shot, nothing can go wrong.’ “That illustrates the high standard of service required from a courier when moving such precious material,” adds Nixon.
Biocair’s team in Cambridge (UK) responded by planning the lane in precise detail, from the route to be driven to the arrangements for pick-up and drop-off at each end. But despite such meticulous preparations, an initial mock run fell just outside the tight target timescale.
The problem was the excessive amount of time needed to achieve customs clearance.
Specifically, in the aftermath of Brexit, the run was among many shipments of goods from the UK to the EU that suffered significant delays due to new checks and administrative procedures.
It fell to Gavin King, CGT Logistics Specialist for Biocair in Cambridge, to work out how to speed things up. “We needed to find a way to expedite regulatory approval,” says King.
He explains that the usual procedure is to obtain road freight clearance, but this required Biocair’s driver to physically discharge paperwork at an authorized office in Amsterdam, adding many hours to the journey, before backtracking south to Geleen. “The solution lays in thinking creatively along with the agencies we worked with to find an alternative,” says King.
The second mock run was a resounding success! We achieved the results Rocket wanted, completing the return leg by 2pm, which we had previously thought might not be possible. Then, when we did our first live runs with real
shipments, they went just about perfectly."
CGT Logistics Specialist, Biocair
Rocket’s Supply Chain team highlights how Biocair demonstrated know-how, with careful planning and execution, attention to detail and excellent communication. “They exceeded our service requirements in terms of letting us know where our shipments were and whether they would meet the deadline,” says a member of the Rocket team. Furthermore, “the Supply Chain team also appreciated their quick responses and their honesty about what adjustments were possible. They didn’t over-promise.”
As a result of Biocair’s willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ for the patient and client, Rocket has placed increasing trust in Biocair and looks forward to a continuing
relationship. A member of the Rocket team adds, “That is a testament to how smoothly all their shipments are going, but especially this lane, which was particularly challenging.”
Biocair always works with a sense of urgency and passion to ensure every
shipment gets the required attention. They have set the bar incredibly high.”
Ankit Merchant, Senior Director Supply Chain, Rocket Pharmaceuticals
Find out about how Biocair can support you with your temperature-controlled shipments by visiting our website.