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The Future Of Biopharma

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Old 08-02-2009, 06:48 PM
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Biopharma is an industry dependent on investment, and thus, has been importantly affected by this financial crisis. Not only are manufacturers and biotech companies being impacted, but also, vendors and service suppliers.

As of today, new technologies and product ideas have taken a second place over stock market projections. Serious lay-offs, mergers, and outsourcing opportunities are the current norm. Outsourcing has expanded beyond manufacturing and R&D, moving also into sales. This has a positive effect over short-term results, but sacrifices long-term investor equity.

In view of this spectrum, there are several important trends taking force within the global biotech reality, as identified by life sciences consulting firms; these are the promised sun after the storm.

1. Product approvals

Biopharma product approvals have been decreasing for almost five years now, especially for recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies; however, the next five years seem promising. Fewer products have been approved yearly lately, but these include more of these proteins, which have higher peak sales levels, and, although fewer of these antibodies have been approved in recent years, there are many filings pending, promising an increase in approvals over the next years. In addition, biosimilars are a long-term promising trend being adopted by the European Union and seeking FDA approval.

2. Mergers and acquisitions

Big and small are being hurt by the current events, and many will eventually be acquired; others will sell assets or restructure. Private funding for small biopharmas will get structured in order to create a lasting effect on the industry. The big ones will get the rights to market the smaller ones’ products.

3. Emerging markets

Although China’s manufacturing indexes have decreased considerably, this country still presents a positive annual growth rate, some of it pertaining to the pharma industry, as several collaborations, investments in China’s biotech, and joint ventures between domestic Chinese organizations and western companies. In addition, it is working on making health care more accessible to its huge population; domestic biological consumption is increasing as they improve their R&D and process development of biologicals. It is home to more than 500 biopharma companies. Its biogeneric makers are going to explore opportunities in developing countries, and exports of bio regents will increase, as they have been exporting them for many years now.

India’s biopharma continues to grow even today. Its R&D, clinical research, and production capacity have expanded to support the industry’s growth. The Department of Biotechnology will acquire a full ministry status, off shoring is increasing, and clinical research is growing, among other positive projections.

4. Science

Biopharma is turning strong towards the use of novel expression systems. There are regulatory and intellectual property issues, but manufacturers are willing to work it out.

5. Biofuels

This is a major biotech trend, as it has proven to be more economical than wind, solar, and hydro options. There are many options here that are being explored, and there are high hopes for this area, even if the crisis has slowed down the commercialization of ethanol from non-food crop sources.

6. Manufacturing

Bioreactors are diminishing in size in the next years, as the need for more capacity is decreasing.

The increased use of disposables in biopharma manufacturing is a certainty due to rapid changeover times, faster cleaning, and lower risk of contamination. In this way, reduced capital is manageable, and cleaning costs are diminished.

7. Downstream purification

It is a more cost-effective and efficient purification system, although not free of issues in regards to capacity.

8. Outsourcing

Pharma has chosen to outsource several activities in order to focus on others. This trend will only get stronger in the future as a result of the current stage the industry is at; allowing for lower costs and more efficiency.

9. Budget

In the future, executives will be changing budgets and buying patterns. Budgets will be spent more carefully, impacting mainly, positively, or negatively: process development, new technologies to improve efficiency for downstream production, equipment purchases, and construction of facilities.
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