By Richard Johnson, President and CEO, PDA
INTERPHEX Premier Association Partner
How many times have we all heard over the past 12 months that this has been a year like no other? While the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry was already accelerating at record pace, the COVID-19 pandemic became the catalyst for even more rapid change and innovation. Many of the lessons learned over the last year will be applied not only to the coronavirus and other vaccines, but also, will have a lasting impact on the direction of our industry for years to come.
The top three trends I see driving the transformation of the pharmaceutical industry are ATMPs, Flexible Manufacturing, and the Digital Revolution.
Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) will continue to be a big focus area for pharmaceutical investment, development, and manufacturing. These innovative products will continue to have an impact on pharmaceutical manufacturing because they are not manufactured in traditional ways. The scale for these therapies is different, and both the cost and the sensitivity of these products is high. They require advanced equipment to handle manufacturing with short turnover and, as a result, they will remain a key driver of our industry’s evolution.
Another trend that will endure is the need for Flexible Manufacturing. There has been so much change in recent times in product availability and the types of drug product, the need for facilities to be highly flexible and able to change quickly has become paramount. It is no longer economical to invest in a facility that makes only one product. The trend continues to move toward multi-use, multi-product facilities capable of producing multiple dosage forms.
Finally, as we look toward the future, we cannot ignore the resounding impact of the Digital Revolution. The digitization of the industry touches so many facets of what we do. We are on a journey to an interconnected environment where all equipment in the manufacturing plant will become interrelated. We will also start to see more applications of artificial intelligence from the standpoint of both material planning and manufacturing optimization.
What Will be “Hot” at INTERPHEX 2021?
Even though people around the world are dealing with “virus fatigue,” Coronavirus-related topics will remain a dominant part of the conversation for the rest of the year. Technologies that are permitting the rapid development and manufacture of novel vaccines will be at the forefront. As will how the new technology used to develop the Coronavirus vaccine at record pace will be applied to other products.
The days of doing things the “traditional way” are fast becoming a thing of the past, and how the industry will adapt to revolutionary new processes and best practices will attract a great deal of attention.
The effects of scaling up manufacturing will also be a “hot topic,” including the impact on contract manufacturing and the need for “reshoring,” by bringing back to home countries manufacturing that was previously moved offshore.
The Important Role of RECONNEX 365
The pandemic has caused us to explore new ways of doing business, many of which will continue. We have seen clearly that companies cannot wait an entire year to find out about new technologies. RECONNEX 365, a digital sourcing platform brought to you by INTERPHEX, fills an important need for suppliers by enabling them to make their products available to the industry not only during the INTERPHEX Show, but also at any time throughout the year.
People want to be able to access information right away; RECONNEX 365 gives them just the platform to do so. It keeps people connected to the industry and will build excitement for when we can finally come together again to see these exciting new technologies in person.
Our industry has risen to a tremendous challenge in a significant time of need, and we will continue to drive transformation through innovation. Whether together in person or virtually while worlds apart, the dedicated professionals who make up this industry will look ahead to the future, using the lessons learned over the last year to better prepare for future challenges. And through it all, we will all be working together toward our common goal: ensuring the availability of quality medicines to meet the evolving needs of our global population.
I look forward to seeing you in New York in October!