CMOs invest in fill/finish capacity in response to biopharma demand

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

CMOs investing in fill/finish capacity and tech for biopharma demand
CMOs investing in fill/finish capacity and tech for biopharma demand

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Increasing interest in biopharmaceuticals has led to significant CMO investments and upgrades with Recipharm, Vetter and Aesica upping their fill/finish game this week.

In order to keep up with changing trends in the pharma industry, contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) must adapt to a landscape that focuses more and more on biopharmaceuticals.

This week Aesica invested in pre-filled syringe technology, whilst Recipharm’s $43m (€32m) investment in lyophilisation was only surpassed by Vetter’s $100m double expansion at its Germany and US facilities.

Such a huge investment, Thomas Otto, Managing Director at Vetter, told us, is largely due to “an increase in the types of drugs that require manufacturing services by companies like Vetter, in particular the biotechnology drugs.”

These complex compounds, he continued, require “special handling and services and because of the expansion of the overall market, we are experiencing higher customer demand in this area.”

Fill/Finish Investments

The $100m will add a number of new technologies including three filling lines (two for manufacturing liquid cartridges and vials at the Ravensburg, Germany site; one for prefilled syringes at the Chicago, US plant), two thawing rooms, two lyophilisers, two single-use isolators, and an automated visual inspection machine.

Similarly - Armin Dallüge, General Manager of Recipharm in Wasserburg, Germany - told us the firm is adding a fourth production area to increase its lyophilisation capacity, to service a “niche”​ but “fast growing business.”

Freeze-drying turns the drug into a crystalline solid and - particularly in the case of biopharmaceuticals - the molecule remains more stable and robust than with a traditional liquid filling.

Meanwhile, Aesica has spent $679,000 to add extra equipment at its Nottingham, UK fill/finish facility and though it is a much smaller investment it is “a reflection of the direction the wider market is heading,”​ said Director of the site, Ian Lafferty.


These expansions follow suit with a number of CDMOs who have upped their services recently, including Baxter​, AMRI​, Cytovance​ and Synerlab​.

“Competition in the market place is always a strong motivator for investing… It is our strategy to continue to invest in our infrastructure and services regardless of the competition,” ​said Otto. “To stay ahead of the curve means to invest in the future.”

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