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DISCUSSING TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGIES AT CPHI WORLDWIDE CPhI Worldwide returned to Frankfurt, Germany, on 24-26 October 2017. Gathering experts and thought leaders from the entire pharmaceutical supply chain, this was the perfect opportunity to obtain their views on latest developments, trends and technologies.
he 2017 CPhI Worldwide event in Frankfurt hosted more than 20 dedicated zones covering ingredients, APIs, excipients, contract services, packaging, biopharma and much more. With more than 45,000 visitors touring exhibitors across 11 halls, CPhI secured its position as the number one event for the pharma industry. “The show’s fantastic – we’ve got some great leads,” said Ramesh Subramanian, Vice President, Strategic Marketing at Piramal. Christophe Le Ret, Global Marketing Director at Umicore Precious Metals Chemistry agreed, saying “It’s the biggest event in this industry, and it’s very important for us… but we need to address the challenge of size versus efficiency.” “As a company with customers and operations around the world, the CPhI events provide an opportunity for us to connect with customers and colleagues to discuss challenges and opportunities in the life science sector,” commented Jim Keay, Business Director for Life Sciences at Vertellus.
State of the industry The global pharmaceutical industry was predicted to see moderate growth in 2017, and this appears to be holding true. The numbers of expansions and other investments hitting the news is testament to a broad confidence in the industry and its future. In the words of Vertellus’s Jim Keay, “As the economy continues to expand, we are optimistic about opportunities across a breadth of sectors in the US and around the world.” “We’ve made seven major expansions in 2017,” said Alex Maw, Director at Cambrex. “We have a strong market intelligence team that focuses on trends and opportunities that drive our investments.” Piramal’s Ramesh Subramanian noted that the company has made significant investments in India and North America to expand high potency API (HPAPI) capabilities, API manufacturing and sterile injectables, and plans to expand Phase I capabilities are afoot. “We are investing heavily,” he said. “We are trying to predict trends, and investing accordingly.” “In 2017, Vertellus launched a strategic planning process that led to a heightened focus on key areas of the business: plastics, preservatives for the personal care sector, and intermediates and actives for the agrochemicals sector,” explained Jim Keay. “Supporting our commitment to growth in these areas, Vertellus has invested in additional talent in the areas of engineering, marketing, market development and application development… We are also leveraging investments made in plant locations during 2016. For example, recent upgrades to the Nantong plant allow Vertellus to manufacture a full suite of Vitamin B3 products and support additional market demand.” Avara Pharmaceutical Services has made several acquisitions in recent months – the company now has seven manufacturing sites, explained Bill Pasek, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. With sites in the UK and Europe, Brexit might have been a cause for concern, but Jim Scandura, Executive Vice President and Chief Operative Officer waved such concerns aside, saying “It [Brexit] is going to be what it is, and we’re not going to worry about it.” “Our custom synthesis business is almost fully booked until the end of Q1 2018,” commented Jürgen Rotzler, Leading Scientist and Product Manager Ligands at Solvias. “We see a continued demand for early phase development of small molecules. However the analytical service for biopharmaceuticals is our fastest growing section.”
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Uetikon (a Novacap company) has also had a good year, according to Xavier Jeanjean. “We are expecting to finish 14-15% over last year, in terms of sales,” he revealed.
Quality over cost? One of the biggest challenges said to be facing the pharmaceutical industry is rising expectations from consumers who demand greater value for less cost. However, many companies still find that quality will always be the most important factor. As Novacap’s Xavier Jeanjean said, “Confidence is obviously an issue – quality and reliability are driving factors over price in this industry.” Yu Lu, Executive Director, Corporate Development and Communications at STA Pharmaceuticals, commented that although China has historically been viewed as a low-cost provider, the situation is changing as API manufacturing has driven improvements in quality. “The quality of products we produce are held against a global standard,” she explained. “The trick is to reduce costs while retaining quality,” said Dago Caceres, Global Strategic Marketing Leader for Dow. He says that Dow Pharma Solutions achieves this via two platforms for innovation: improving productivity and enhancing solubility. “For example, we can eliminate manufacturing costs by enabling production of CR tablets via direct compression, using our new METHOCEL Polymers,” he said. Bernhard Paul, General Manager for Europe at Johnson Matthey (JM) agreed that “Customers want things quickly, more efficiently and cost effectively – these are key challenges,” he said. “But by using speciality technology, we can make things more efficient, and do it in a way that is sustainable and does not impact quality.” “Price pressure is not the major problem of niche products,” advised Solvias’ Jürgen Rotzler. “The bigger issue with ligands & catalysts for homogeneous catalysis is the readiness of clients to support also the further development of new methodologies.”
Collaboration is key
Collaboration is a big theme for Umicore. “Even if we have what a customer needs, we aim to collaborate to make sure it’s a perfect fit,” explained Umicore’s Christophe Le Ret. “Innovation in the industry is coming from collaboration, but pharma is missing a roadmap that shows where we want to be in 5 years’ time… Similar to the electronics industry, we need to agree set goals that we can all work towards.” Vertellus’s Jim Keay expressed a similar focus on collaborative efforts. “We are aiming to do more contract development, rather than just manufacturing,” he said. “So we are looking for partners, possibly in the form of joint ventures, to move our R&D activities forward.” Jeanne Thoma, President and CEO of SPI Pharma, sees opportunities in finding solutions for specific customer applications, such as patient friendly formulations for geriatric and paediatric populations, de-risking new product development, and increasing speed to market. Citing a new collaboration with Noramco as an example, Jeanne Thoma explained that SPI Pharma and Noramco with their complementary skill sets and product portfolios will help their customers to rapidly expand their pipeline and drive innovation. She said, “There has been a lot of interest from our customers since the announcement, so I believe we have identified a need in the market.”