Patent Cliff

How to manage the patent cliff?

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Factory of the Future

Consulting companies such as McKinsey argues that the pharmaceutical companies should wake up and re-think its manufacturing approach because it is outdated. In their 2012 report “Plantopia” they argue that the pharmaceutical industry is far behind other industries and should see the challenge of modernizing in the near future.

The organization ISPE (International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering) has a forum called International Leadership Forum (ILF) where senior management from operations, quality, development and engineering meet twice a year together with leading regulators from USA, Europe and other countries. ILF put together a group to establish a “GPS” — a Global Positioning Strategy for the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing that puts many interesting requirements for the future of pharmaceutical technology and facilities.

Many of the pharmaceutical companies have the same ambition. After ten quiet years there is a significant growth in the interest for concepts on “the factory of the future” and several of the companies have started projects in order to make the next generation of agile, flexible, small and user-focused facilities to replace or supplement their traditional facilities.

Pharmaceutical companies should seek partners with an up-to-date knowledge of trends and experiences within modern manufacturing concepts. It does not necessarily take a big investment to prepare manufacturing for the future, if it is done in due time. If not, there is a high risk of being locked-in to a few suppliers that may not be prepared enough for the challenges of the future.

The PWC report “Pharma 2020 — From vision to decision” wraps up its comprehensive analysis of the pharmaceutical industry the next few years with the following summary: “The next few years may look bleak for pharma, but we’re convinced that the following decade will bring a golden era of renewed productivity and prosperity.”

For pharmaceutical companies this is a challenge and an opportunity. Therefore it is more important than ever to select the right partners and build long and trust-based relations with them. ●


[1] European Pharmaceuticals, August 2012, Deutsche Bank Markets Research

[2] The Global Use of Medicine: Outlook Through 2016, July 2012, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics

[3] “Pharma 2020 – From vision to decision”, Nov. 2012, Price Waterhouse Cooper

* The author is Vice President Strategic Development, NNE Pharmaplan, Denmark.E-Mail-Contact:

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