Pharma Outsourcing: A Year in Review

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-12-02-2017, Volume 41, Issue 12
Pages: 54–55

In a productive year, 2017 was filled with acquisitions, facility expansions, and new biopharma technology.

Outsourcing in the biopharmaceutical industry had a productive 2017. A flurry of acquisitions, an expansion of biotechnology needs, and a growth in new facilities and services offered were seen. The following are some of the highlights from the year in pharmaceutical outsourcing.

Mergers and acquisitions

Acquisitions were robust in 2017, with more than 25 companies making moves to gain new facilities and services. On Jan. 19, 2017, WuXi AppTec announced the acquisition of the biology-focused preclinical drug discovery contract research organization (CRO), HD Biosciences (HDB), which is headquartered in Shanghai and has operating facilities in Beijing and San Diego, CA. HDB offers plate-based pharmacology and screening capabilities, hit identification, lead discovery, and in vivo pharmacology, among other services  (1). 

Catalent completed the acquisition of Accucaps, the Canada-based developer and manufacturer of over-the-counter (OTC), high-potency and conventional pharmaceutical softgels, in February. The acquisition complements Catalent’s global OTC and prescription pharmaceutical softgel capabilities and capacity, adding a portfolio of products supplied to pharmaceutical companies in North America and two facilities offering integrated softgel development, manufacturing, and packaging (2). 

In June, Lonza completed the acquisition of Capsugel S.A. from KKR for $5.5 billion in cash, including refinancing of existing Capsugel debt of approximately $2 billion. The acquisition is in line with Lonza’s strategy to accelerate growth and deliver value complementing its existing offerings and by creating market opportunities in the pharma and consumer healthcare and nutrition industries (3). 

Lonza also acquired Micro-Macinazione (Switzerland), which provides micronization of active ingredients for the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries, in July. The acquisition boosts Lonza’s micronization services at its existing micronization clinical and commercial manufacturing site in Quakertown, PA, which Lonza gained through its acquisition of Capsugel. Capsugel had gained the Quakertown facility in January 2016 when it acquired Powdersize, a contract manufacturer specializing in particle engineering. Lonza/Capsugel has since invested in significant additional capacity at the Quakertown site (4). 

On Aug. 29, 2017, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced its completed acquisition of Patheon, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). Patheon will become part of Thermo Fisher’s laboratory products and services segment. The acquisition adds Patheon’s CDMO capabilities to Thermo’s clinical trials services and bioproduction technologies (5). 

MilliporeSigma, the life-science subsidiary of Merck KGaA, announced in August an agreement to acquire Natrix Separations, an Ontario, Canada-based provider of hydrogel membrane products for single-use chromatography. This acquisition is part of MilliporeSigma’s efforts to drive next-generation bioprocessing. Specializing in the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals through disposable downstream processing products, Natrix markets an anion exchange membrane and cation exchange membrane, and is developing additional products to enable a fully single-use, full-scale biological purification process (6). 

Charles River Labs announced in August that it has acquired Brains On-Line, a CRO that provides data used to advance therapeutics for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases. With operations in San Francisco, the Netherlands, and Germany, Brains On-Line uses in vivo efficacy and pharmacokinetics testing to provide data necessary to advance potential CNS therapies through the development process (7). 

In September 2017, Eurofins Scientific entered into an agreement to acquire EAG Labs, a scientific services company specializing in analytical and testing services to the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries, from Odyssey Investment Partners. This acquisition by Eurofins Scientific was the latest move in a series of transitions for EAG Labs. In July 2015, EAG (Evans Analytical Group), a scientific services company that serves technology- and life-science-related industries, acquired Analytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories (ABC Laboratories), which it later rebranded as EAG Labs in July 2016. With this acquisition, Eurofins Scientific aims to expand its reach in North America (8). 


Catalent acquired Cook Pharmica, a Bloomington, Indiana-based biologics CDMO, in October. The acquisition strengthens Catalent’s position in biologics development and analytical services, manufacturing, and finished product supply (9). 

CordenPharma entered into definite agreements to acquire the former Hospira Boulder high-containment API site from Pfizer, the company announced on Oct. 10, 2017. Located in proximity to the existing CordenPharma Colorado facility, Hospira Boulder produces APIs and intermediate products with specialized capabilities in small- to medium-scale highly potent and cytotoxic API manufacturing (10). 



In January, GEA and Siemens AG announced a partnership to bring continuous manufacturing to the pharmaceutical and life-sciences industries by offering an integrated continuous tablet manufacturing line. Comprising GEA’s ConsiGma continuous manufacturing platform equipped with a Siemens Automation & Industrial IT solution, including Sipat for PAT Data Management, the combined technologies offer both wet granulation and direct compression for continuous tablet production (11).

Catalent Pharma Solutions announced in July that it has entered into an exclusive long-term supply agreement to produce Pfizer’s Advil Liqui-Gels Minis (ibuprofen), which uses Catalent’s softgel platform OptiGel Mini technology. The new format, Advil Liqui-Gels Minis, delivers the formulation in a more concentrated fill, resulting in smaller capsules that are easier to swallow (12). 

On Aug. 29, 2017, MilliporeSigma announced a collaboration with Angiex, a biotechnology start-up based in Cambridge, MA, to support the development of TM4SF1, Angiex’s lead oncology antibody drug candidate, to clinical use. The treatment is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapy for cancer against a vascular target. The collaboration is the first project to take place at MilliporeSigma’s biodevelopment center in Burlington, MA, set to open in October 2017. Angiex will be given end-to-end process development tools, education programs, and training by the company (13).

New facilities and services

In April, Catalent Pharma Solutions announced that it is increasing spray-drying capacity at its Pharmatek, San Diego, CA facility with the installation of an additional GEA Niro Mobile Minor unit. The expanded capabilities are being introduced in response to market demand for solubility enhancement solutions. To further support the development of spray-dried dispersions, Catalent has also installed a third Gerties Mini-Pactor, a high-pressure roller compactor, at its San Diego site (14). 

EAG Laboratories announced on April 25, 2017 that the company is expanding a dedicated cell bioassay laboratory in Columbia, MO, tripling the footprint of its existing facility.  The expansion includes cell-culturing incubators and new instrumentation to increase capacity and assay throughput (15).   

On May 8, 2017, Patheon completed an expansion project at its Greenville, NC manufacturing site. The company invested approximately $26 million to update its sterile pharmaceutical development service (PDS) suite and to build an integrated sterile PDS suite that is compliant with regulatory authorities. The PDS suite will manufacture sterile liquid and lyophilized drug products (16).

In July, Avantor opened a new research center in Bridgewater, NJ, to help customers with a full range of upstream and downstream processes, from gene to protein expression through final formulation and drug delivery. The center includes life sciences and advanced materials research tools, including cleanroom facilities, multiple mass spectrometers, specially constructed bioreactors, and particle size analyzers to help companies with customized drug development (17).

On August 30, 2017, Cambrex announced the expansion of its High Point, NC facility. According to the company, the investment is a response to customer demand for analytical development and validation services in support of cGMP products at the clinical stage (18).


1. WuXi AppTec, “WuXi AppTec Acquires Biology Focused R&D Service Leader HD Biosciences,” Press Release, Jan. 19, 2017.
2. Catalent, “Catalent Completes Accucaps Acquisition to Expand Softgel Development And Manufacturing Capabilities and Capacity,” Press Release, Feb. 16, 2017.
3. Lonza, “Lonza Completes Acquisition of Capsugel to Create Leading Integrated Solutions Provider to the Global Pharma and Consumer Healthcare Industries,” Press Release, July 6, 2017. 
4. Lonza, “Lonza Acquires Micro-Macinazione to Create the Global Leader in Micronization Capacity and Capabilities,” Press Release, Aug. 4, 2017.
5. Thermo Fisher Scientific, “Thermo Fisher Scientific Completes Acquisition of Patheon,” Press Release, Aug. 29, 2017.
6. MilliporeSigma, “MilliporeSigma to Acquire Natrix Separations to Advance Next-Generation Processing Capabilities,” Press Release, Aug. 28, 2017. 
7. Charles River, “Charles River Laboratories Acquires Brains On-Line,” Press Release,  Aug. 7, 2017.
8. Eurofins, “Eurofins to Expand its Presence in North America with the acquisition of EAG Laboratories,” Press Release,  Sept. 18, 2017.
9. Catalent, “Catalent Expands Biologics Business With Acquisition Of Cook Pharmica,” Press Release,  Oct. 24, 2017.  
10. CordenPharma, “CordenPharma Acquires Pfizer API Manufacturing Facility in Boulder Colorado,” Press Release,  Oct. 10, 2017. 
11. Siemens, “Siemens and GEA Partner in Delivering Continuous Manufacturing to Pharmaceutical Industry,” Press Release, Jan. 9, 2017.
12. Catalent, “Pfizer Partners With Catalent For The Manufacture Of Advil Liqui-Gels Minis,” Press Release, July 12, 2017.
13. MilliporeSigma, “MilliporeSigma Collaborates with Angiex to Speed Clinical Readiness of New Cancer Therapy,” Press Release, Aug. 29, 2017. 
14. Catalent, “Pharmatek Adds Further CGMP Spray Drying Capacity In Response To Demand For Improved Pharmaceutical Solubility,” Press Release, April 25, 2017. 
15. EAG Laboratories, “EAG Laboratories Expands Cell Bioassay Laboratory to Enhance Biopharmaceutical Development Service Offering,” Press Release,  Apr. 25, 2017.
16 . Patheon, “Patheon Completes Sterile Expansion Project at Greenville, NC Manufacturing Site,” Press Release, May 8, 2017.
17. Avantor, “Avantor Opens New Life Sciences Research Center,” Press Release,  July 18, 2017.
18. Cambrex, “Cambrex Invests In New Analytical Development And Method Validation Laboratory At Its High Point, NC Facility,”  Press Release, Aug. 30, 2017. 

Article Details

Pharmaceutical Technology

Vol. 41, No. 12

December 2017

Page: 54-55


When referring to this article, please cite it as S. Haigney, “Pharma Outsourcing: A Year in Review," Pharmaceutical Technology 41 (12) 2017.