Looking Back at 2021 Pharma Manufacturing Topics

Published on: 
Equipment and Processing Report, Equipment and Processing Report December 2021, Volume 14, Issue 12

New processes, automation, and digitalization were highlighted in 2021.

While most of the bio/pharmaceutical industry had very little time for retrospection in the past two years, stories are now beginning to be shared about the urgent, round-the-clock efforts to bring COVID-19 vaccines and therapies to market, including expanding capacity and building facilities. Some new technologies and new ways of working were tried out and proved to be successful, and others are still being developed in preparation for future crises. The following is a short selection of manufacturing topics that the Pharmaceutical Technology editorial team covered in the past year.

An article in April, “Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Shift Outside the Box,” covered intensified and distributed manufacturing approaches including continuous manufacturing and small-scale, point-of-care systems. An October article, “Adopting Continuous Manufacturing for Solid-Dose Drug Products,” looked specifically at continuous manufacturing equipment for solid-dosage drugs. The editors also spoke with experts on this topic in interviews for INTERPHEX, such as the Keynote conversations with Fernando Muzzio, Johannes Khinast, and Dave DiProspero.

Equipment and process advances continue in aseptic manufacturing as well. The industry continues to move toward automation and closed systems. An INTERPHEX Keynote session with Richard Denk, for example, looked at challenges and opportunities. An October article, “Automating Aseptic Manufacturing,” examined the increasing use of robotics. Compounding applications are also seeing increased robotic use, as discussed in “Robotic Automation Boosts Efficiency and Quality in Drug Compounding.”


Digitalization was another theme for 2021, and an article in December, “Digitalization Moves Forward in Pharma Equipment and Processes,” examined industry progress toward digital maturity. Serialization is also back in the spotlight, and the editors talked to experts in an INTERPHEX Keynote series focusing on the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act and the European Union’s Falsified Medicines Directive.

New technologies and methods to handle a new level of speed to market are spilling from the pandemic response into other pharmaceutical manufacturing areas; look for more coverage of this in Pharmaceutical Technology in 2022.