PharmExec Blog

Pharma Manufacturing Investments Reflect Key Industry Trends

Shrinking facility size, growth of biologics, and emerging market demand influence pharma investments. Pharmaceutical Technology’s Cynthia Challener offers summary of selected investments in both small- and large-molecule manufacturing facilities during the last year.

Numerous trends in the pharmaceutical industry, and particularly in the biopharmaceutical sector, are leading to the need for smaller-capacity production facilities, which in turn is affecting the types of investments being made by pharmaceutical manufacturers. First is the shift to biologic-based drugs, which has occurred along with a dramatic increase in the productivity, mainly in terms of much higher titers, of biopharmaceutical processes.

The second factor is the shift to production in emerging markets, both because the middle class is increasing and demand for drugs is expected to grow significantly, and in response to individual government requirements, such as in Brazil and Russia, for western manufacturers that want to sell products–both large and small-molecule–in those countries to produce the drugs locally.

In the biosimilar sector, the stiff competition will keep volumes quite low, at least initially. There are approximately 100 companies worldwide looking to produce 5-7 of the most successful biologics that are coming off patent, and even if just 10 of them are successful, each will have a small share of the market, according to Jagschies. At the same time, many new drug candidates (i.e., antibody drug conjugates) have much higher potency and thus require much smaller doses, which also translates to lower production quantities.

Increasing access to single-use technologies for biologics production is further enabling the scale-down of manufacturing facilities, because such systems provide flexibility and enable companies to quickly change their portfolios in response to market needs.

A summary of selected investments in both small- and large-molecule manufacturing facilities — including Abbott, AbbVie, Actavis, AZ, Bayer, BMS, BI, Lilly, GSK, Novartis, Pfizer, Regeneron, and Roche — can be found in the full version of this article.

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