Contract manufacturing organization
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A contract manufacturing organization (CMO), sometimes called a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), is a company that serves other companies in the pharmaceutical industry on a contract basis to provide comprehensive services from drug development through drug manufacturing. This allows major pharmaceutical companies to outsource those aspects of the business, which can help with scalability or can allow the major company to focus on drug discovery and drug marketing instead.
Services offered by CMOs include, but are not limited to: pre-formulation, formulation development, stability studies, method development, pre-clinical and Phase I clinical trial materials, late-stage clinical trial materials, formal stability, scale-up, registration batches and commercial production. CMOs are contract manufacturers, but they can also be more than that because of the development aspect.
Their customer are not only expecting competitive pricing but also regulatory compliance, flexibility on the production capability and on time delivery. Overall it is required that CMO complies with good manufacturing practice form their client and official organisation such as Food and Drug Administration.
The pharmaceutical market uses outsourcing services from providers in the form of contract research organizations (CROs) and contract manufacturing organizations. In recent years, the concept of a comprehensive single-source provider from drug development through commercial manufacture has emerged. This concept has been implemented by providers known today as contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs).
CMOs are a response to the competitive international nature of the pharmaceutical market as well as the increasing demand for outsourced services. The best-positioned service providers focus on a specific technology or dosage form and promote end-to-end continuity and efficiency for their outsourcing clients. With lower-cost international manufacturers capturing an increasing percentage of the contract manufacturing market, specialization may be an effective hedge against loss of market share.
Before the Financial crisis of 2007–2008, 75% of the candidate that outsourced services were small and mid-sized biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Following the financial crash in 2008 the CMO industry started to be funded by Private equity as a result of a substantial growth and a more qualified management. The 2017-2018 context is uncertain as Donald Trump announced that He wanted to bring down the drug price. The one-stop CDMO concept could be the direction the industry is heading by offering the whole spectrum of development services (e.g. development, production and analysis)
The acquisitions that have been finalized in 2017 in CMO and CDMO industry brought some of these companies to a level that allow them to compete with global bio/pharma companies. The value of the mergers and acquisitions in 2017 was likely to exceed $20 billion, below are some exemple of these M&A :
- Lonza Group - Capsugel : their manufacturing scale combine together is equivalent to a $25 billion bio/pharma company
- Thermo Fisher Scientific - Patheon : that merge allows Patheon to improve its portfolio with clinical development, manufacturing, and packaging services in order to make them a one-stop supplier
- The Carlyle Group - AMRI Global : this acquisition will help AMRI to be more financial savvy and operational focus
An other aspect of these acquisition is coming from CMO that are acquiring manufacturing site from bio/pharma companies. Some example could be from some acquisition of Avara Pharmaceutical:
- Novartis Sandoz site in Boucherville - Canada in 2018
- Glaxo Smith Kline site in South Carolina - USA in 2018 
- AstraZeneca site in Reims - France in 2017 
- Pfizer site in Liscate - Italy in 2017 
The industry is active at aiming to be a larger scale suppliers in the CMO environment but the number of attractive acquisition is limited
The bio/pharma companies used to build dedicated manufacturing capacities for drugs in development only to see them cancelled in Phase III of clinical research, CMO allowed to lighten the burden of such investment. Outsourcing to a CMO allows the pharmaceutical client to expand its technical resources without increased overhead. The client can then manage its internal resources and costs by focusing on core competencies and high-value projects while reducing or not adding infrastructure or technical staff. Virtual and specialty pharmaceutical companies are particularly well-suited to CDMO partnerships, and big pharmaceutical companies are beginning to view relationships with CDMOs as strategic rather than tactical. With two-thirds of pharmaceutical manufacturing being outsourced, and preferred providers receiving the lion's share, additional demand is being placed on specialty areas, i.e. specialty dosage forms.
Working with a CMO also limits a client’s upfront investment of capital for drug development, thus minimizing a project’s cost. By concentrating resources with a single-source provider, the outsourcing client can minimize technical transfer of projects or products, thereby reducing unforeseen costs and potentially speeding new products to market.
Disadvantages of CMOs
The pharmaceutical client using the services of a CMO does not have direct control of the project in regard to scheduling, cost, quality, or accountability. Data security is an issue to be considered when selecting a CMO, as intellectual property and other data are exchanged between client and service provider.
One of the major risk remains in the lack of control for CMO's compliance for the client, for example in the situation of FDA warning letter the production is stopped which could result in major delay. The rise of the CMO industry lead to an increase of inspectors from various division of the Food and Drug Administration (ex:Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research or Center for Drug Evaluation and Research).
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