The composition of the new approvals was particularly noteworthy. Of the 101 NDA approvals, 39 were for new molecular entities (NMEs) (i.e., drugs containing an API that was approved for the first time). The NMEs included 10 biologics and 28 small molecule drugs. This level was the most NME approvals in more than seven years.There were 62 non-NME drugs approved (i.e., drugs containing a previously approved API). Of those, 47 were approved via the 505(b)(2) route, which provides for a simplified approval process for new formulations of previously approved drugs. The 505(b)(2) process is particularly popular with specialty pharmaceutical and generics-drug companies because it is a lower-cost and lower-risk process for developing new drugs than developing NMEs.
Outsourcing trends remain unchanged
The propensity to outsource was largely a function of the nature of the approval and the size of the company getting the approval. Global and mid-size biopharma companies were more likely to outsource their non-NMEs than their NMEs; the global biopharma companies did not outsource dose manufacturing for any of their biologics approvals, but did outsource some of their small-molecule approvals. Small companies outsourced dose manufacture for most of their new approvals, both NME and non-NME, including 100% of their biologic approvals. As one would expect, generic-drug companies outsourced few of their new approvals.
A total of 28 different dose CMOs benefited from new product approvals in 2012. Only six had more than one approval, with Catalent (six new approvals) and Patheon (four new approvals) leading the way.
PharmSource analysis of eight years of FDA approvals data suggests that the acceptance of the CMO business model and its penetration of the biopharmaceutical industry have remained relatively unchanged throughout most of the past decade. NME dose-form outsourcing has remained relatively constant for the past seven years as the industry is governed by two basic truths: smaller companies have a strong tendency to outsource while global biopharma companies have a strong preference to keep products in-house.