Contract Services Enabled the Biopharmaceutical Boom - In the next 20 years, new outsourcing business models will enable biopharmaceutical companies to become more virtual. - BioPharm International


Contract Services Enabled the Biopharmaceutical Boom
In the next 20 years, new outsourcing business models will enable biopharmaceutical companies to become more virtual.

BioPharm International
Volume 20, Issue 10


In recent years, the contract services industry has benefitted from an unprecedented growth in the product development pipeline. Over the past five years, the number of candidates in Phase 1 has grown by 50% and the number of Phase 2 candidates has jumped 25%. This has created new business opportunities for contract services providers. In a recent survey conducted by PharmSource, BioPharm International, and its sister publication Pharmaceutical Technology, most contract service providers report that they are experiencing double-digit growth, which is expected to continue.

Early development services—including preclinical toxicology, clinical pharmacology, analytical chemistry, formulation development, and the manufacture of clinical trial materials—have benefitted the most from this trend. Rather than looking ahead to commercialization, young biopharmaceutical companies have focused on demonstrating as soon as possible that the safety and efficacy profile of a drug candidate is attractive enough to justify late clinical development. That demonstration of safety and efficacy, referred to as proof of concept (POC), is usually made after a small Phase 2 study.

Proof of concept has become a critical financial milestone for early stage companies. Products that successfully demonstrate POC are prime candidates for in-licensing by major pharmaceutical companies and private investments or IPOs. Venture capitalists have adjusted their financial models to target POC as their most likely strategy for realizing the return on their investment.

The demand for early development services from early stage companies has resurrected the integrated services model among service providers. The integrated services model, also known as the "one-stop shop," offers the client a single source for services it might otherwise have to contract from multiple vendors. Typical combinations include packaging preclinical and Phase 1 testing together, and combining formulation development, analytical services, clinical supplies manufacturing, and clinical packaging into a single offering. The purported benefit to the client is faster progression to proof of concept and lower costs of procuring and managing the services. CROs offering the "one-stop shop" model are looking to increase their share of the market by combining a number of relatively small expenditures into a single large engagement.


From a minimal presence 20 years ago, the contract services industry has grown to where it offers a substantial base of suppliers to meet all of a biopharmaceutical company's development and commercial requirements. The PharmSource Advantage contractor database lists 100 contract parenteral manufacturers, 50 formulation development CROs, more than 175 contract analytical laboratories and over 100 biomanufacturers.

While simple supply-and-demand has driven the industry's growth to date, we see new factors pushing the industry in the next 20 years. The main factor will be innovation in technologies and business models. Contractors have led the way in addressing emerging industry needs like cold chain management, electronic data capture, and manufacturing process improvement. CMOs have anticipated emerging market needs for technologies like prefilled syringes and high containment manufacturing. CMOs and CROs are partnering with their clients to serve the expanding base of R&D and manufacturing activity in Asia, especially India, China, and Singapore.

We expect to see the biopharmaceutical industry take advantage of the service supply base available to it. More outsourcing will lead to new business models, including longer-term strategic relationships and risk-sharing arrangements that will enable biopharmaceutical companies to become more virtual and increase the number of development products. In the future, we expect the industry to be dominated by a small number of large, well-financed players.

Jim Miller is the president of PharmSource Information Services Inc., and the publisher of Bio/Pharmaceutical Outsourcing Report, 703.383.4903,

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