Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed gaps in the global pharmaceutical supply chain for drugs in clinical trials and for marketed drugs. Drug manufacturing can be a long and complex process requiring specialized expertise. The biopharmaceutical industry realized this and started to outsource the majority of its manufacturing over the past two decades. While a lot of manufacturing still takes place in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe, biopharma companies have increasingly looked to Asia and India for lower cost manufacturing. However, no one could have predicted that a global pandemic would stop many manufacturing facilities from functioning.

When borders close or limit access, facilities slow down or shut down, or local authorities impose new restrictions, those interruptions rattle the entire supply chain. This can threaten the expediency of the drug manufacturing timeline and ultimately the delivery of important medicines for patients. Companies that offer research and development as well as manufacturing services, especially those that are automated or tech-enabled, are seeing strong demand from companies looking to regionalize their supply chain and manufacturing. The global market for outsourced drug discovery services was valued at $32 billion in 2019, up 16% from 2018, and we expect the market to continue to grow.

Outsourcing isn’t a new concept in the biopharmaceutical industry, but the data and trends show it is an increasingly important one. Innovative drugs are now being developed by small biotechnology companies as well as large global pharmaceutical companies. The smaller companies also outsource because they often lack internal capabilities and need extensive support from outside partners for expertise and capabilities. There are enormous benefits that come with access to proven capabilities and established facilities, particularly if partners are utilizing the latest technology, such as software automated robotics, to improve manufacturing and safeguard against the risks and limitations of manual processes.

Our firm, Biospring Partners, recently announced an investment in Abzena, a global contract development and manufacturing organization that partners with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to develop and manufacture biologics and antibody drug conjugates (ADCs). Biologics, the fastest growing segment of global pharmaceutical sales, can be used to treat some of the most challenging diseases e.g., cancer and arthritis. By 2025, biologics sales are expected to reach $489 billion, up from $205 billion in 2015.

With over 400 projects to its name, Abzena offers its partners scientific expertise, lower costs, accelerated timelines and simplified supply chains. Its best-in-class facilities include one location in the United Kingdom and two in the United States, offering attractive regionalized supply chain potential.

Abzena is highly differentiated from its peers, and its expertise in the rapidly growing biologics arena makes it one to watch. Jennifer and I are extremely proud to back the team at Abzena during this important time in the company’s growth.

Learn more at www.abzena.com.