DCAT Week ’18 – 4th day review
As the schedule of meetings at DCAT Week ‘18 wound down and delegates looked forward to the Annual Dinner, the traditional centrepiece of the week, DCAT president Joe Sutton pronounced the event a great success.
“I’ve not heard a single complaint,” he said. “People love this week because it gives them an opportunity to meet with senior level people in the pharmaceutical industry.” The Executive Insight programme had been well attended throughout and he believed that any long-term concern over the event’s future after the move from the Waldorf Astoria are gone, he added.
“We re-evaluate every year what kinds of companies we want as members. We see the industry moving in the direction of technology, with the integration of drugs into devices, for example. So maybe the ‘T’ in DCAT – it stands for Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies – will come to the fore,” Sutton said.
As on the first three days, we continued to interview leading players about their strategies and outlooks for the year ahead. Among them was Minafin, the holding company for one of the large European pharmaceutical CDMOs, Minakem.
DCAT Week came just a week after Minafin announced that it had begun extending its manufacturing capacity at Dunkirk, France. The $18 million investment will add a new 28 m3 production line while a further 26 m3 will be freed by upgrading existing assets to improve flexibility.
According to Frédéric Gauchet, chairman and CEO of Minafin, the move fits into the company’s ‘Jump 21’ strategy, under which it aims to become one of the top ten CDMOs. Business is very strong at the moment and the company believes that it will continue this way for the foreseeable future.
Rolf Rolli, director of business development at Swiss life sciences firm Biosynth was at DCAT Week for the second time to market the capabilities in which it has invested. These include a new GMP plant with 160 and 200 litre reactors, allowing us to make 8-10 kilo batches, which might be complex products, orphan drugs or early phase compounds.
“For pharma, our company is very strong in complex chemistries, like carbohydrate chemistry and asymmetric synthesis, so we can make complex molecules for innovators,” Rolli said.
Denis Angioletti, chief commercial officer at another Swiss firm, Cerbios-Pharma, said that the company plans to double capacity at its highly potent unit over the next two years. Most of its other investment will be for ADC technology and it is now in the design phase for a dedicated conjugation suite.
“We had some meetings that significantly moved things forward,” he said. “That’s the advantage here – if you need to, you can dedicate one or two hours in a private room for a meeting.”
Dr Joseph Barendt, president of Chiral Technologies, highlighted recent advances beyond the core competency in chiral chromatography. These have included analysing synthetic amino acids and now also peptide-drug conjugates.
“That is our new foray into the bio field and it is going pretty well,” Barendt commented. “We also acquired a technology in the US for polymerase chain reaction amplification, where the old technology was quite burdensome.”
Finally, Marga Viñes business development manager for contract manufacturing at Spanish firm Grifols, was present for the second time. The company, which is best known for blood derivatives, has built this part of its business up over the years and services the world out of two sites in Spain.
“Our growth has continued from 2017,” she said. “This year we are seeing growth for our normal saline products to mitigate the shortage in the US. The FDA has been reporting a lot about this and we have had approval to supply, which we have been doing since the start of January.”