More Questions than Answers

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-04-02-2010, Volume 34, Issue 4

As the industry continues to evolve, do we know where we're headed?

Although I'm new to INTERPHEX, I'm not new to the pharmaceutical or biotechnology market. I spent a good deal of time in the late 1990s working on online communities for the industry, including for Pharmaceutical Technology readers. That said, today's industry is dramatically different from the one I left in 2001. The market has undergone major structural change. And I find that I have more questions than answers about where it's headed.

At INTERPHEX, our goal is to fully understand the market so that we can develop a strategic plan that reflects industry changes and opportunities. I'd like to gain your perspective and feedback on some key questions.

What do you call this industry? This seems like a simple enough question to answer, but I haven't come across a simple response. Several descriptions are floating around, including the terms pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and biotechnology. Is it still one industry or a series of individual markets that have naturally developed and morphed out of what was once known as the pharmaceutical industry? It's interesting to note that the INTERPHEX name has remained the same during the past 31 years, but its moving parts have significantly changed to reflect the evolving industry landscape.


What is the outlook for the next 12 months? Perhaps a more fair question would be, "Have you seen any recent signs of improvement or a turnaround?" There continues to be daily news about job elimination and consolidation. For INTERPHEX, the economic situation affects our attendance rates. But not all of the news is negative. Even within our business in the past few months, there have positive signals from exhibitors willing to invest in the marketplace created by INTERPHEX.

Where will drugs be manufactured? And what will be manufactured in United States? There seems to be a natural shift in worldwide drug manufacturing as domestic drug consumption grows in developing countries and production expands to meet that need. Every drug manufacturer in today's market must have a global perspective on manufacturing, an approach that involves multiple considerations. In the US, for example, mergers and acquisitions, facility closures, the ever-growing patent cliff, and scarce drug pipeline create confusion as to what the composition of the US market will be in the years ahead. What signs are you seeing?

Where will R&D be conducted? Recently, there has been a flurry of reports about large pharmaceutical companies scaling back their research and development (R&D) efforts. Is this a short-term or a long-term shift? Does the shift represent a business model transformation that is moving away from core competencies in processing and R&D and toward marketing? Do you foresee in-licensing and acquisitions increasing as companies attempt to outsource their riskier processes? What will the R&D mix look like five years from now?

How can INTERPHEX best serve the changing market? What industry trends does your company need to address and adjust to? What are your emerging educational needs? What types of products and equipment interest you?

INTERPHEX will continue to visit companies and attend industry events to help answer these questions, but we also appreciate your feedback. If we have a chance to meet at this year's show, Apr. 20–22 in New York City, please tell me what you think or send me an email.

We also plan to solicit ongoing feedback throughout the year using social media channels. Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or join the INTERPHEX LinkedIn Group to participate in the ongoing conversation.

Bob Stewart is industry vice-president for INTERPHEX,