Microfluidics offer pharma growth opportunities

January 8, 2010
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Microelectronics offers "striking opportunities" for advancing biomedical research and creating new markets for the medical sciences industry, according to analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

Microelectronics offers "striking opportunities" for advancing biomedical research and creating new markets for the medical sciences industry, according to analysis from Frost & Sullivan. In a press statement, Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Rasika Ramachandran explained: "Adopting microfluidics will provide pharmaceutical companies with multiple benefits such as improved data quality, economical reagent consumption and cost reduction, and acceleration of the drug discovery processes — ultimately shortening the time-to-market of a drug."

She also explained that microfluidics reduce the amount of biological material, such as proteins and enzymes, needed for drug screening. "This helps drug development companies to cut down on the initial expenses of drug development and, at the same time, gain speed in bringing a drug into the market," she said.

According to the analyst firm's report, European Lab-on-chip and Microfluidics Market, the market for life sciences' applications of lab-on-chip and microfluidics will probably experience double-digit growth cumulatively during the next 7 years. Because of the global recession, however, only single-digit growth is forecast for the next 2 years as microfluidics and lab-on-chip require significant capital expenditure.

"Revenues from new placements will be slim in the coming year or two because of budget cutbacks by the major pharmaceutical companies," explained Ramachandran. "Nevertheless, lab-on-chip companies that already have a significant installed base will continue to enjoy small, but consistent revenue flows from the sale of consumables."

To improve revenues in the coming years, the report believes that the market will need to "aggressively" address the technical challenges that are currently hindering the uptake of microfluidics and lab-on-chip technology. There is also a need to address interoperability concerns.

"Being a new technology that has to fit into an existing laboratory set up, it is essential that lab-on-chip equipment is compatible with the pre-existing robotics and automation layout of the lab," said Ramachandran. "Companies that meet these standards will achieve greater success in attracting customers as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are always looking for ways to cut costs, and will not be willing to spend on a new technology if it entitles more incidental expenses to accommodate a new instrument; the instrument should be as easy to use as plug-and-play."

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