By Roel Gordijn, Global VP Biotech Integrated Solutions and Michael Schoeb, Senior VP of Process Engineering Biotech, Pall Biotech
One of the key drivers for a technology change in the biopharma industry is the need for leaner, more automated manufacturing processes with the target to reduce costs of goods sold. Most other manufacturing industries have already examined their costs and implemented new technologies, manufacturing techniques and process automation to make their work flows more efficient and cost effective. Biopharma has lagged behind in this field. Most new innovative drugs today require smaller batch sizes because they are targeted at smaller patient populations and tailored to specific market demands. This can make manufacturing using traditional technologies and equipment set up expensive. Scientifically, however, it is an exciting time for medicine. We’ve moved from chemical APIs, to tailored and potent biopharmaceuticals, to ingenious cell and gene therapies that can offer real cures for unmet needs. For the latter therapies, there is a lot of promising activity and clinical trials, but few therapies have been designed with commercial scale in mind. As an industry, we need to find a way to manufacture both traditional biopharmaceuticals and new personalized medicines in a more cost-effective way. The focus on costs will only continue and we need new manufacturing techniques, automated processing and lean principles to be implemented.