The challenges of a changing pharmaceutical manufacturing landscape


PharmaVentures Ltd, Oxford, United Kingdom


Manufacturing is a key component of the pharmaceutical supply chain and over the past twenty years it has been transformed by the growth of new technologies, such as biologics, cell and gene therapies, as well as the increasing importance of outsourcing to Contract Development Manufacturing Organisations (CDMOs). As the pharmaceutical industry continues shape and re-shape through mergers and acquisitions, established pharmaceutical companies have been divesting their manufacturing operations to CDMOs. These changes, together with countries wishing to bring manufacturing home, has brought forward new challenges for the industry. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought an additional dimension to the demands for the sector. Here we explore the how these changes are influencing the shape of the industry and attempt to predict its future.

The importance of pharmaceutical manufacturing within international politics has been elevated to new heights through the COVID-19 pandemic. World leaders and politicians realised that their ability to urgently deliver vaccines to their own people was in part reflected by whether they had the local skills and capabilities to manufacture such advanced vaccines.


Traditionally, the global location of pharmaceutical manufacturing has been driven by several factors including IP, skills, costs, and tax. However, the landscape of manufacturing has changed through technology and innovation, too. As older drugs using more traditional manufacturing methods become generic, costs become important which can be resolved through relocation to countries with lower cost, such as China and India, or through enhanced efficiencies that are not dependent on the cost of labour but improved manufacturing technologies. With newer drugs and treatments moving more into biologics, cell and gene therapy, the shape of the industry is changing again.


The impact of this changing landscape translates itself straight into the manufacturing operations of pharmaceutic ...