Is Pharmaceutical and CMO/CDMOs a marriage of convenience?

Pharmaceutical companies over the past decade have begun to lean more heavily on contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) and contract development and manufacturing organisations (CDMOs) for several reasons.

The partnership has proven to be mutually beneficial and a way to share risk with companies more equipped to handle it. The resurgence of the entire biotech and biologics space in Singapore over the last five years has helped create a stronger partnership with pharma companies and CMOs.

“That is because CMOs have the right technical expertise, operational experience and more risk-taking ability,” explains Tushar Dadhwal, Associate Principal at Page Executive Singapore.

Increase the reach and competitiveness of products

Latin America has seen a decline in international pharmaceutical manufacturing plants as they’ve reduced their headcount considerably. They, too, have switched to CMO and CDMO models to gain agility and hone their strategy to launch new therapeutic lines.  

“Highly complex companies, such as speciality- and orphan-drug pharma, have had opportunities to reach the countries in Latin America (where they previously didn’t have a presence) by partnering with and sharing the risk with a CDMO instead of investing in manufacturing and operations by themselves,” says Juliana Acosta, Associate Partner at Page Executive Mexico City. These partnerships have impacted recruitment in marketing, regularity affairs and supply chain positions with more strategic and business-oriented roles.

Improve the efficiency of processes

There are also logistical reasons to divide the load. As demand grows for more choices in pharmaceutical offerings – not to mention the pandemic generating a skyward need, efficiency and reduced cost has become more significant priorities. With equipment and facilities at the ready, possibilities to scale and proven experience in meeting short deadlines, CMOs and CDMOs are well-positioned to provide these choices.  

“CMOs have consistently attempted to create deeper inroads with pharmaceutical organisations, but with only marginal success. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the situation on its head, with pharmaceutical companies struggling to find avenues through which to develop and manufacture billions of doses of vaccines in record time,” says Dadhwal.

Boost company capabilities

In Frankfurt, Germany, the big pharma companies are turning to CMOs and CDMOs rather than producing pharmaceuticals themselves. In this way, they can allocate more investment in marketing and analytics, and research and development.

“They need time for good marketing because the market is very competitive, and there are a lot of products,” says Nathalie Rilling, Associate Partner at Page Executive Frankfurt. In the past, many companies launched blockbusters, where their products were the only ones of their kind in the market. Now, there’s a wide variety of products on the market, including generics.  

Benefits of end-to-end CDMO/CMO business models

Contract organisations are highly competitive, consistently looking to produce more at better, faster and cheaper capacity. And because of this, specialised “one-stop-shop” CMOs and CDMOs have emerged in recent times.

According to Emma Adams, Business Director at Michael Page London, one incentive of having a “one-stop-shop” is it allows companies to avoid relying on external parties that could leave them open to uncontrollable delays. This strategy can improve project timelines at a more attractive price. At the same time, competition in the market ensures that companies improve without jeopardising quality.  

“Pharmaceutical companies have become more and more reliant on outsourcing due to trends such as the growth of small molecules, the need to be more cost-efficient and faster to market and increasing API complexities. This has led CMOs and CDMOs to invest heavily in top talent, focusing on researchers, chemists and development professionals to keep up with client demand,” says Adams. “CMOs and CDMOs are opening sites in the UK and across the EU to ensure there is no disruption post-Brexit,” she adds.

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