Report from Asia

Contract manufacturing organizations throughout Asia are increasing their capabilities to meet market demand and attract foreign investment and partnerships.
Aug 01, 2011


PHOTO: JOHN FOXX / GETTY IMAGES
Asia's biomanufacturing industry has a lot to live up to in the coming years. A Business Monitor International (BMI) report projects that Asia's share of global biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities alone will double between 2009 and 2013, growing from 10% to 20% of global market share. Asian contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) are most likely to benefit from the growth. Multinational companies are looking to outsource in order to combat escalating costs at home. To compete, Asian CMOs are making fast strides to comply with FDA and EMA standards and requirements.

To date, India has the highest number of FDA-certified manufacturing facilities and more than four times the number of drug-manufacturing staff than does the United States (India has more than 12 times the number of manufacturing staff than the United Kingdom). Also, China is working hard to address its intellectual property (IP) rights issues. In 2007, the government issued 53 regulations related to drug-approval process improvement and shortened its timeframe for investigational new drugs by half.

Industry players have also expressed confidence in Asian developed countries such as South Korea and Singapore. These countries have well-established manufacturing environments and promising government initiatives. For example, Singapore's biomedical integrated strategy, launched in June 2000, has attracted big players, including Lonza and Novartis, to set up shop in its country. In June 2011, Lonza committed an additional $12.2 (CHF$10) million to further expand its Singapore plant in response to the country's positive economic growth and the government's continued support for the biopharmaceutical manufacturing sector.

To keep up with the ongoing and expected growth in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, domestic Asian CMOs are implementing a few changes to attract more global attention, including partnerships and investment.

Upgrading technology

In recent years, many pharmaceutical companies have shifted their focus from straight manufacturing to innovation, productivity, and quality control. Use of new technologies that are cost-effective and require minimal maintenance is growing more than ever before. Single-use technology, or disposables, in particular, is becoming more popular among CMOs based in Asia. The technology makes CMOs more attractive because it reduces production complexity and extends the range of services that can be offered to global customers.

Jay Chandran, associate research director of the healthcare division Asia Pacific for Frost & Sullivan, says, "[Single-use technology] will gain popularity in Asia in due course as it becomes a mandatory manufacturing capability to have if manufacturers want to remain competitive in the export markets of North America and Europe. Collaboration with large international players will further encourage the use of this technology in Asia."

In 2008, San Diego-based Pacific Biopharma Group and PacificGMP partnered to establish a single-use facility called China Quantitative Biomedicine in Taizhou, China. The facility will manufacture proteins for the US and European markets, and aims to meet the rising demands in Asia.