Chemicals and Service Providers
Keeping up with growing demand and changing requirements
The increased number of chronic diseases, lifestyle-related disorders, and more awareness towards well-being is pushing up the demand for medicines, which is driving growth for the excipients segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Excipients are crucial to the formulation of drug products. They enable the safe delivery of drug substances and can answer challenges such as oral drug candidates' poor aqueous solubility and/or permeability. In other words, novel excipients are needed to support pharmaceutical innovation. For chemical and service providers in 2023, shifting consumer demands, navigating price increases for raw materials, and necessary innovations will remain top-level topics during board meetings.
The innovation drive coupled with ever more stringent regulations means drug molecules, both small and large, remain harder to formulate. From emerging dosage forms in the biopharma space to advances in the supplement subsector, chemical firms have increasingly relied on partnerships to come up with innovative solutions to meet demand. Supporting the pharmaceutical market with functional excipients like EUDRAGIT and RESOMER, Evonik Health Care also contributes to reducing firms’ risks, particularly with APIs and functional excipients used with small molecule products. The firm leveraged brains from two leading US universities – Santa Barbara and Stanford – to develop technologies to support the biotech and pharma industries.
One of the most groundbreaking developments to follow will undoubtedly be sustainable chemical synthesis. Using the power of water, Evonik Health Care, along with Professor Bruce Lipshutz of Santa Barbara, is pioneering a sustainable technology for the industrial-scale production of pharma intermediates and APIs: ‘Chemistry in water’. Stefan Randl, head of drug substance, described how this technology can result in waste reduction during chemical production: “The idea is to move away from organic solvents to aqueous-based reactions; simply put, it is using water to reduce the footprint of chemical synthesis.”
“Our industry will continue to have to rely on China for various chemicals as the Western world has no more the capacities, equipment, and resources to restore all our needs. Western markets need to become more independent in the field of strategic chemicals.”
Jean-Marie Rosset, Head Platform Pharma, WeylChem
On the firm’s strategy of collaboration with academia, he expanded: “Evonik Health Care is active in developing innovative excipients and formulations. One example is our partnership with Stanford University on innovative DNA/mRNA delivery technologies based on polymers as an alternative to lipids. We have great connections to the academic landscape and are always looking at interacting with strong universities in the US.”
Across that segment of the industry, chemists are working towards reducing the usage of solvents and ensuring molecules are made sustainably. James Bruno, owner of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Solutions, expanded on some of the techniques the industry is moving towards: “We need to dispose of waste responsibly, especially with potent substances like cancer drugs, steroids, or hormones. We now use thermal oxidizers to burn such waste, or we dispose of it in bio ponds instead of dumping it.”
Several indicators point towards a bright future for chemical providers in the US. The focus at the pharmaceutical and governmental level on decreasing foreign reliance on specialty chemicals, along with the life science industry’s growing reliance on CDMOs, will allow providers (particularly European firms) to further expand their footprint in the US market. France-based Roquette, one of the largest excipients suppliers in the world, broke ground at its US$25 million Innovation Center near Philadelphia, PA, on 19 April 2023. Paul Smaltz, VP global business unit pharmaceuticals, explained the decision-making process behind the location choice: “We chose Philadelphia as the location for the facility as this is where many of our customers already conduct their new drug development research, and so we knew we would be right where our customers needed us.”
Overall, chemical providers continue to provide customers with innovative, sustainable and safe solutions to address society’s ever-changing needs. Taking geopolitical shifts, rising costs, and heightened regulatory standards into account, companies with a portfolio of advanced technologies, a strong CGMP manufacturing network in the West and innovative chemistry approaches will succeed in securing pharma firms’ peace of mind in the near term.
Article header image courtesy of Evonik