Biologics Outsourcing

Biologics Outsourcing: Trends and Opportunities


The biopharmaceutical industry has seen tremendous growth over the past few decades. With the development and approval of novel biologic drugs to treat various diseases, biologics now account for a significant portion of the pharmaceutical market. However, the increasing demand for these complex drugs has also put pressure on biopharma companies to scale up production. As a result, biologics outsourcing has emerged as a major trend in the industry.

Introduction to Biologics
Biologics, also known as biologic medicines or biological drugs, are medicines created from living organisms using biotechnology. They include vaccines, blood components, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapies, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins. Biologics are generally large, complex molecules compared to traditional small molecule drugs. They are often manufactured in living systems such as microbial fermentation or mammalian cell cultures. Due to their intricate nature, biologics require specialized manufacturing capabilities and facilities.

Growing Demand for Biologics Driving Outsourcing
The demand for biologic drugs is growing significantly due to their established efficacy in treating various chronic diseases. According to a report by Global Market Insights, the global biologics market size is expected to exceed USD 400 billion by 2027. The top selling biologic drugs include Humira, Revlimid, Rituxan, Opdivo, Imbruvica, Eliquis and Keytruda. As more novel biologics enter the market, pharmaceutical companies are facing challenges in scaling up internal manufacturing capacity to meet this rising demand. This is a key factor driving the trend of outsourcing biologics production to contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs).

Current Outsourcing Trends
Most biopharma companies now outsource some part of Biologics Outsourcing manufacturing to CDMOs. The outsourced activities range from development services such as cell line construction and process development to commercial production activities. According to a survey, over 80% of pharmaceutical manufacturers outsource at least one bioprocessing activity. North America and Europe currently dominate the CDMO market for biologics due to the high concentration of biopharma companies and stringent regulatory environment. However, Asia is emerging as an attractive outsourcing destination, especially countries like China and Singapore, due to low costs and skilled workforce.

Benefits of Biologics Outsourcing
There are multiple advantages for biotech and pharmaceutical companies to outsource biologics manufacturing:

– Access to specialized expertise and infrastructure: CDMOs have significant expertise and investments in latest biomanufacturing technologies like single-use equipment that is otherwise difficult for a single company to develop internally.

– Flexible capacity: Outsourcing allows companies to avoid making large capital investments for facilities and equipment. They can flexibly scale up or down production based on clinical and market demands through CDMOs.

– Reduce costs and focus on core capabilities: Manufacturing is outsourced to reduce fixed operating costs and free up internal resources to focus on drug development, marketing and sales. This improves cost-efficiency.

– Global manufacturing networks: CDMOs provide access to a global supply chain with manufacturing sites around the world. This diversifies geographical risks.

– Regulatory expertise: Experienced CDMOs help navigate complex global regulatory requirements for biologics development and approvals.

Key Challenges of Biologics Outsourcing
While outsourcing offers several advantages, it also presents unique challenges that need to be addressed:

– High dependency on partners: Over-reliance on CDMOs makes the biopharma company highly dependent on their capabilities and performance. Any delays or quality issues can significantly impact product supply.

– Transfer of sensitive proprietary technologies: Biologics manufacturing processes involve a company’s core scientific know-how. Effective technology transfers to CDMOs while protecting intellectual property is crucial.

– Managing global supply chains: Coordinating manufacturing, quality control, shipping and other logistics across geographically dispersed CDMO sites spread across the globe adds complexity.

– Regulatory compliance: Both the biopharma sponsor and CDMOs have to diligently comply with changing regulations to avoid any compliance failures that could disrupt supplies.

– High costs: Manufacturing biologics at commercial scales tends to be a highly capital-intensive and expensive affair, making outsourcing contracts and negotiations challenging.

Strategies to Overcome Challenges
To mitigate biologics outsourcing risks and maximize benefits, companies should develop the following strategies:

– Qualify CDMOs diligently based on expertise, capacities, track record and cultural fit before contracting.

– Maintain partial in-house capabilities as a plan B and for regulatory support during approvals.

– Focus on transparent relationships built on trust with payment milestones aligned to performance.

– Continuously monitor CDMO operations through on-site quality audits and management reviews.

– Develop integrated quality systems spanning internal and external partners to ensure compliance.

– Diversify suppliers and sites to avoid dependence on any single source of supply.

With the biologics market projected to grow impressively in the coming years, outsourcing will continue gaining prominence. While challenges remain, biopharma companies are realizing higher benefits from strategic outsourcing enabled by experienced CDMO partners. With the right partner qualification, auditing, contracting and relationship management processes in place, companies can leverage outsourcing to maximize capabilities, reduce costs and accelerate supply of innovative biologic medicines to patients worldwide.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it