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the microsampling blog

how to reduce costs of shipping blood samples

From the moment liquid blood samples are collected from a patient or study subject, the samples must be packaged, stored, and shipped in a cold environment to prevent the development of bacteria.

Liquid ("wet") blood samples must be refrigerated at specific temperatures to remain viable. The current standard for handling frozen plasma is to pack it with dry ice in specialized insulated containers. Because blood samples may be infectious, packaging of liquid blood samples must conform to international standards.

The Challenges of Shipping Blood Samples 

The cost of blood sample shipping containers must be considered and calculated from a clinical perspective. The high cost of cold shipping biological samples can increase the overall costs of a clinical trial or other research study

To eliminate the potential for contamination and development of bacteria distortion, the integrity of liquid blood samples must be maintained. Liquid blood samples transported from the sampling location to a laboratory for processing and analysis are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations and must be frozen as quickly as possible.

Since dry ice and protective packaging add significantly to the weight of each shipment, the cost to transport increases accordingly. Moreover, because of the limited effectiveness of dry ice and to reduce excess handling, priority overnight shipping is the usual method of transport and delivery.

The High Cost of Shipping Frozen Blood Samples

Biohazard_symbol_(black_and_yellow)The cost of blood sample shipping containers must be considered and calculated from a clinical perspective. The high cost of cold shipping biological samples can increase the overall costs of a clinical trial or other research study. 

A study performed by bioMontr in 2012 showed the average cost of shipping 1 ml of frozen blood samples by FedEx Overnight Priority from Georgia to California, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Illinois, and Colorado was $178.62. The cost of international sample shipments to China, India, United Kingdom, and Brazil averaged $482.51.

Unfortunately, while many budget-strapped researchers would welcome the opportunity to reduce the cost of shipping frozen blood samples, the fact remains that liquid blood samples require cold chain shipping to protect the specimens from excessive exposure.

Lower Costs with Dried Capillary Blood Sampling

dried-blood-samples-mitra-vams-collection-method-non-biohazardHowever, researchers have identified a cost saving opportunity for shipping remote blood sampling. Microsampling, which is an approach for collecting micro-sized samples from a simple finger-stick, can be shipped as "dried blood samples" and still provide reliable clinical results.

The packaging and shipment of dried blood microsamples are far simpler than transporting liquid blood samples. A microsample can be shipped in a sealed foil specimen bag. Including a packet of desiccant inside the specimen bag with the samples is recommended to help keep them dry during transit.

Mailing image 1The specimen bag can be placed inside a secondary watertight mailing envelope for additional protection.

For many studies that utilize dried blood microsampling, study participants can use microsampling devices to self-collect blood samples at home. They place their samples inside the provided packaging to mail their samples to the lab from the nearest mailbox.

Calculate the Savings from Shipping Dried Microsamples

Dried blood microsamples can be shipped in ambient temperatures without harm. The study by bioMontr also identified the FedEx Priority Shipping costs for shipments of dried blood spot (DBS) cards and other microsampling technologies. For those U.S. destinations, the average shipping cost per package was $11.20; the average shipment to the international destinations was $113.34.

Shipping dried blood versus frozen blood samples saved 94% for domestic shipping and 77% to/from international destinations.

Dried Blood Samples Save Time and Money

The cost of a single clinical trial for drug development is estimated to be roughly $2.6 billion. As research and medical costs continue to rise globally, researchers and clinical trial sponsors are actively seeking ways to reduce costs.

Being able to ship blood and store blood samples with fewer handling requirements is a huge benefit to the shipment of blood samples. The millions of dollars saved by implementing remote specimen collection and dried blood sampling can reallocated toward other needs within a research study or clinical trial.

For more resources, visit our page on Microsampling for Decentralized Clinical Trials:

Explore resources for designing a successful decentralized clinical trial (DCT) with remote microsampling.

In some territories our devices are supplied for therapeutic or IVD use Outside of those territories our devices are supplied for research use only

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Trajan, Neoteryx

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