It is no surprise that countries, such as China and India, which are rapidly developing biomanufacturing clusters, appear
high on the list of likely country destinations for international outsourcing. Among all industry respondents to the BioPlan
annual study, China ranked highest as a potential international outsourcing destination with 26.2% of respondents (up from
17%), indicating that there was a "likelihood" or "strong likelihood" that they would outsource production to facilities there
in the next five years. Next on the list was India, cited by 18.4% of respondents, up from 13.2% in 2011.
To some extent, geographical outsourcing trends tend to reflect availability (perceived or actual) of reputable CMOs in a
given country. New facilities coming on line and the limited number of known CMOs can be more important reasons than cultural
or political factors while patent and intellectual-property issues also clearly play a role. Nevertheless, China is clearly
the top potential destination for future international outsourcing (even when segregating by US and European-based respondents),
and India is growing in favour, particularly among US respondents.
It is worth keeping in mind that China was a late starter in the area of contract manufacturing. The few internationally based
CMOs in China are working hard to establish a global presence, and legal and regulatory aspects continue to hinder commercial-scale
contract manufacturing. Nevertheless, there continues to be excess pharmaceutical production capacity in China, so outsourcing
may permit improvements as the idle capacity of many production facilities is addressed. It may take years for Chinese CMOs,
however, to come up to full cGMP standards and to be permitted to operate at commercial scale. The BioPlan survey data shows
that by 2017, between one-third and almost one-half of the industry will be outsourcing some form of operations internationally,
with China a key component of future plans. Assuming that acceptance of offshoring continues to increase and that key emerging
destinations, such as China, reach the necessary regulatory standards, it is reasonable to assume that by the end of this
decade, offshoring will have become a mainstream activity.
Eric Langer is president of BioPlan Associates and a periodic contributor to Outsourcing Outlook. email@example.com
1. BioPlan Associates, 9th Annual Report and Survey of Biopharmaceutical Manufacturers (Rockville, MD, 2012).
2. BioPlan Associates, Top 1000 Global Biopharmaceutical Facilities Index (Rockville, MD).