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A boom in the expansion of contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) is underway, as these companies brace for the development of viral vectors to satisfy the spike in drug treatments that demand them. But at the moment, there is a worrisome shortage that, by some estimates, means waiting more than a year. Consequently, drug companies are balancing the cost of production delays against the challenges of bringing production in-house, versus trusting the CMO pipeline.
How is the industry reacting to this market phenomenon? What we’re seeing at the moment are larger, more established companies looking to expand their infrastructure with viral vector manufacturing capability. With the assistance of engineering consulting firms, these companies are developing and designing in-house capabilities so that they can to do viral vector manufacturing and R&D on their own.
Will this end up contributing to a reversal of fortunes down the road for the CMO industry, which is staking a large part of its growth on this aspect? The jury is still out.
Large pharma companies already familiar with monoclonal antibody production may not be too thrown off by the technology required to bring manufacturing in-house. While the process is different, the manufacturing of viral vectors uses many of the same technologies as mAbs, and the resident knowledge can be leveraged accordingly. For others, however, it is uncharted territory.