WHAT HAVE BEEN THE KEY DRIVERS FOR THE GROWTH OF PREFILLS?
One of the key drivers at the moment is injectable biologics. If you look at the pipeline in the biotech world, roughly a third of all new projects are injectable biologics. The other driving factor is globalization. Many of our clients have international expansion plans and we're also seeing a strong focus on pharmerging markets. In the past, the ratio of growth in the established markets was in aggregate about double that of the pharmerging markets. For the next 4–5 years, however, projections show that the markets are basically on a par; the pharmerging markets will see growth of about $120–$140 billion until 2014 and the figure is similar for the established markets. In percentage terms, the pharmerging markets will grow at an annual rate of 14–17%, while the established markets vary between 3–6%.HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK PREFILLABLE SYRINGES ARE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO INJECTABLES THAT ARE GOING OFF-PATENT FOR COMPANIES THAT ARE LOOKING TO EXTEND THE BRAND LIFE OF THEIR PRODUCT?
We always have clients coming to us for life-cycle propositions. I don't see it as more or less compared with the past, but in the pipeline reviews we do with our clients we find that a number of them want to upgrade the products they already have on the marketplace by changing the form of administration. For instance, we're in discussion with a number of customers to propose that they move from a vial to a syringe (single or dualchamber) or to a cartridge.
One important factor driving companies towards prefillable devices is the healthcare market's need for cost containment. Healthcare payers want to reduce costs by making products more convenient to administer at home. If you're a patient needing an injectable medication and you always have to go to a doctor for administration, this is a huge cost. Because of this, reimbursement authorities and insurance providers are happy if people can administer medicines at home. A syringe, a pen, or an auto-injector supports patient convenience, and both the handling and overall treatment costs can be significantly reduced. This is one of the key reasons for the industry to develop more of these systems. Indeed, within the prefilled area, this is the segment that is growing the strongest.
IS THE US THE BIGGEST MARKET FOR PREFILLED SYSTEMS?
Actually, the US and Europe are almost level if you look at the syringe market. In a recent study, we found that the US accounts for 43% of the global prefilled market sales, while Europe accounts for 42%. Only part of this market, is for pens and auto-injectors, but it's a growing segment that is seeing doubledigit sales growth. Singledigit growth is only being experienced in the conventional syringe area.