The Future of Biopharma

What the industry's future holds and what needs to be done to get there.
Jan 01, 2013
Volume 26, Issue 1

Eric S. Langer
The biopharmaceutical industry continues to evolve with expectations of a positive future. Much of this anticipation is driven by pressure for the next new thing, demand for better bioprocessing technologies, and by concerns about weak development pipelines. In response, most large pharmaceutical companies are now devoting increasing development efforts on biopharmaceuticals rather than small molecule drugs. Some are now spending 40% or more of their R&D budget on biopharmaceuticals.

Innovation resulting in improved productivity continues unabated and is a primary driver for many of the current biopharmaceutical trends. Innovation speeds discovery, drives down costs, and improves productivity. The current situation in the biopharmaceutical industry is exciting enough, with biosimilars, new technologies, personalized medicines, and opportunities in emerging markets. The industry, however, believes more opportunities for advancement are coming in the near future. Innovations are driving a number of major industry trends; and many ongoing trends, themselves, are driving innovation.

Biosimilars (and biobetters) are driving trends as well. With more than 700 biosimilars/biobetters in the development pipeline, there will be many more biopharmaceutical manufacturers and products, perhaps as many as a dozen or more for each emulated reference product. This pipeline will mean a lot more new biopharmaceutical industry players, ranging from virtual and foreign to the largest Big Pharma companies, with many new manufacturers and facilities. These competitors are expected to compete on the basis of price; therefore, low manufacturing costs will be required. This low-cost requirement is driving many companies to seek out and adopt bioprocessing innovations that achieve the most cost-effective manufacturing.

Some of the biopharmaceutical trends coming in 2013 support a future vision that includes:
  • increasing number of global biopharma facilities
  • more biological products, many with smaller niches
  • more multi-product facilities
  • adoption of single-use systems at clinical and commercial scale
  • continuous processing, including perfusion
  • high-tech expression systems and other genetic engineering advances
  • automation, monitoring, and process control
  • bioprocess modeling
  • modular facilities adaptable to new enabling technologies, with the ability to repurpose spaces.

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