By Dan Stehn
My sense is that outsourcing by pharma brands to contract packers will continue to rise for the next 3-5 years as the market continues to shift from small molecule to biologics, rare and orphan treatments and more personalized drug products. Coinciding with the growth in biologics is demand for formats such as prefilled syringes, autoinjectors and pens as well as sterile filling capabilities.
By far the most common format for a biologic drug is a prefilled syringe, a market estimated to be worth $22.5 billion by 2025. Packaging these formats is more complex because of the fact they are cold-chain and need temperature management, and typically packed as part of custom-engineered, multicomponent kits.
They also require custom assembly and labelling services as biologics are often packed small batches and there is a need for a much greater level of technical precision for assembly and labelling as there is an extremely small tolerance for placement deviations as most presentations have critical to quality aspects. The custom service capabilities required for injectable packing/filling, storing and shipping such products are harder to come by than larger scale tablet and capsule contract packers.
They also require more significant equipment investment for manufacturers thinking of developing an in-house packing line. The presents opportunities for contract partners with the capabilities and expertise to deliver services in these markets and we are seeing much more of these more complex packaging projects in Sharp both in the US and in Europe.
As companies are looking to reduce their supplier base and shifting towards more strategic relationships with key suppliers to achieve economies of scale, learn how contract suppliers can benefit from developing strategic partnerships with other vendors and operating as one entity.