Biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing set to grow, says Frost & Sullivan

Owing to advances in disposable and single-use equipment and upstream and downstream processing technologies

Considerable growth opportunities lie ahead for biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs), according to a new report by Frost & Sullivan. With blockbuster biologics worth over US$100bn due to lose patent protection by 2019, the global biosimilars market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60.4% between 2012 and 2019.

The Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing report forecasts that advances in bioprocessing technologies, as well as innovation in biopharmaceuticals production with transgenic plants and animals, stem cells and cloning, will have a positive impact on the market.

'Due to the steep cost and long time needed to build, equip and validate a biomanufacturing facility, the majority of biopharmaceutical companies prefer leveraging the expertise of CMOs,' said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Senior Research Analyst Aiswariya Chidambaram.

'CMOs have made substantial investments in infrastructure, technology, and personnel in recent years, and are capable of providing uncomplicated, timely, and cost-effective services. They are also well versed with regulatory compliances and work closely with regulatory agencies, thereby reducing time-to-market.'

Disposable technology is a key biomanufacturing trend and presents attractive opportunities for minimising production costs, owing to its customisable design, enhanced productivity, and significant operational benefits, the report says.

Disposable equipment and single-use bioreactors are a viable alternative to conventional stainless steel equipment, due to their flexibility, short start-up time, quick changeover, and absence of clean in place, steam in place, and large volumes of water for injection. Single-use technologies offer additional benefits, such as simple transfer of operations between sites and their ability to be easily expandable for larger volumes.Advances in upstream and downstream processing technologies will also have an impact on the industry. With 20% of biotech manufacturing costs accounting for upstream processing activities, and 40% for downstream ones, most companies and CMOs are gearing up to adopt new technologies to optimise efficiency.

CMOs have made substantial investments in infrastructure, technology, and personnel in recent years, and are capable of providing uncomplicated, timely, and cost-effective services

In 2011 the global industry witnessed a 6.2% budget increase for integrating new technologies in upstream processing, says Frost & Sullivan, where key areas of focus will be reducing quality variability in the product – impurities such as aggregates, glycosylation variants, and so forth – and cell viability.

Downstream processing technologies follow two different trends specific to mAbs and recombinant proteins, specifically in the purification processes. In the next five years, exploration of alternative purification methods will be crucial for CMOs, the report says.

Advances in lyophilisation and increasing applications of process analytical technology (PAT) will also attract attention and innovations such as automated loading processes into the dryer will contribute to minimising human error and maximising productivity.

Mammalian cell-based contract manufacturing is expected to sustain the industry’s future expansion. This segment currently constitutes nearly two-thirds of the sales revenue of the global biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing market and is anticipated to grow at 65% over the next five years, at a significantly higher rate than microbial cell-based contract manufacturing segment.

Increasing adoption of the large molecules model by Big Pharma companies will also boost prospects. Of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies, nearly 80% are expected to experience a net growth in their biologics portfolio. The shift to large molecules will likely be led by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.8% from 2012 to 2017, says the report.

Companies will also increasingly outsource crucial operations and will seek to adopt an integrated/risk-sharing business model. The aim is to provide a 'one-stop-shop' option for the biopharmaceutical companies where they can exploit the resources and expertise of the CMOs to reap maximum benefits, while they concentrate on their core capabilities and R&D activities.

Industry consolidation in the form of mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances between CMOs, biopharmaceutical companies and technology providers are likely to increase, so as to gain access to newer geographies, niche product segments, and latest technologies.