As drug development programs progress into the clinic, the continued use of DBS provides additional benefits and cost savings. The simplified, less invasive blood sampling (finger/heel prick) is much more patient friendly than blood draws, especially for pediatric studies and in critically ill patients. The shipping, handling, and storage costs are also greatly reduced because DBS is safe and can be stored at room temperature.
Unlike liquid blood or plasma, DBS does not need to be handled as a biohazard since pathogens like HIV and hepatitis B are inactivated. Biohazardous samples are not only expensive to ship, but special training and licensing are also required. In addition, certain countries will not let blood samples be sent out of the country because they are biohazardous. The use of DBS can overcome these barriers.
Sample handling is much easier using DBS because the sample does not need to be centrifuged for plasma harvesting and then transferred to secondary tubes for freezing. Finally, refrigeration is not needed during transport or for storage as the DBS can be stored at room temperature. Normally, specialized couriers are needed to ship samples in dry ice, and for large Phase II/III clinical trials that require thousands of samples to be shipped from different sites, this process can be very expensive using liquid blood. The reduced amount of specialized equipment at clinical sites (refrigerated centrifuge, monitored freezers, etc.) also makes DBS technology extremely valuable when conducting clinical studies in emerging countries.