This trend has had a positive effect on CDMOs who are seeing a higher demand for a broader range of outsourced services
to plug the gaps in their customers’in-house capacity. As a result,
many CDMOs are expanding their offering to become full-service providers that can offer a wider variety of capabilities in order
to remain competitive. While smaller, niche service providers will
continue to exist, there is an increased focus on developing ‘true
partnerships’ with CDMOs that are able to provide a multitude
of services. When a CDMO can do this from one single site this
helps to further streamline the supply chain for its customers.
Mark Quick, executive vice president, corporate
development, Recipharm: Outsourcing relationships are now much more strategic. The decision to
outsource is made at an earlier stage in a product’s
development, rather than being used as a backup
when things go wrong, or when resources get stretched. Consequently, long-term partnerships are becoming more commonplace. The growing financial pressures placed on pharmaceutical
companies is one reason for this shift, as they look to make cost
and time savings by outsourcing to CDMOs with specialist capabilities. This, together with a number of CMO failures, has led to
companies more stringently evaluating contract partners. Companies with strong compliance track records and a good financial
history tend to fair better with this scrutiny.
Manuel Leal, business development director,
Idifarma: The outsourcing industry continues to
grow. The increasing importance of generics, which
has driven competition in the pharmaceutical sector generally, has led to a significant increase in
outsourcing, mostly when specific capabilities like high potency
or small-scale manufacturing are required. Customers now expect increased flexibility and the ability to adapt to products with
special demands in terms of manufacturing conditions, available
technologies, smaller volumes, global distribution, etc. Also, the
service level demands have increased and customers want better
response times from trusted CDMOs, without compromising the
highest quality standards.
CP: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAINTAIN
AN EFFECTIVE SPONSOR-PARTNER RELATIONSHIP?
Madden-Smith: In my experience, the most effective relationships are those built on a shared understanding of the primary
end goals and assumptions. Effective communication on all sides,
working together as a single team and continuously checking assumptions is paramount to keep the drug development activities
on the most efficient track towards a successful and robust product.
Mackay: CMOs need to invest in building a successful relationship with each client based on a clear understanding of a specific
clients’definition of an ideal outcome. Only then can a true partnership begin to be established.
If you are a smaller, specialist CMO like Symbiosis, we need to
demonstrate how we are best placed to overcome specific chal-
lenges that a customer may encounter and offer a niche com-
petitive strength, which our competitors can’t. For example, while
larger CMOs offer relatively fixed service offerings, as a small-
scale sterile manufacturer, we have the operational flexibility to
meet tight timescales and tailor our services directly and specifi-
cally in response to a clients’ requirements. So, if time is of the
essence, our agility and speed of delivery resonates strongly with
In terms of maintaining a relationship, an organization will
only have a relationship to be concerned about if it started out
with its eyes and ears open, and with an intention to build a relationship, which is a long-term one. Generally speaking, those
organizations who focus on volume, or are naturally transactional
in their dealings with customers, tend to concern themselves less
with the issue of maintaining relationships. Our small-to-medi-um clients don’t see value in that approach.
Sheehan: It’s critically important to fully understand your customer and their expectations. Underestimating the scope of a
contract and failing to deliver will have a lasting effect on sponsor-partner relationships. Taking the time to fully comprehend
the challenges your customer is facing is vital to maintaining
a strong partnership. For example, Saneca Pharma works with
many pharmaceutical companies who not only value technical
capabilities and expertise, but also flexibility and open communication, meaning it’s important our teams are responsive and can
adapt to changing requirements. In a densely populated market,
a quality service offering combined with a broad portfolio of capabilities to provide the agility needed in this fast-moving sector
can really help CDMOs to stand out.
Quick: The answer here is not rocket science. You need to provide
customers with the services they want and deliver what you say
you will. Of course, cost is always a factor in any outsourcing decision, so providing good value for money is also important. The
ability to manage complexity is also fundamental to an effective
relationship. Our customers come to us for guidance on development and manufacturing challenges and it is our job to manage
these on their behalf, removing the headache. A focus on innovation is the only way to make this happen; you need to improve and
innovate all the time, whether this is to overcome complex formulation challenges, reduce lead times during manufacturing or
minimize cost. Those CDMOs that provide a full-service offering
are best placed to offer a turnkey solution to customer challenges
and therefore build effective, long-term relationships.
Leal: We look for long-term strategic collaborations with clients.
We always strive to integrate with customers through a client-centric approach to build mutual trust and transparency. This
trust is often generated in complex moments within a project so
it’s essential to be upfront with the client, dedicating time to the
clear definition of roles and expectations at the outset, as well as
being proactive when solving technical challenges.
CP: WHAT SHOULD PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES BE CONSIDERING WHEN CHOOSING AN OUTSOURCED PARTNER?
Madden-Smith: By the very nature of dealing with the unknowns of new chemical entities, drug development has many
twists and turns which need careful navigation and require dif-