State of the biopharma industry: the double-edged sword of single-use

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Ealier this year, we called on readers to help assess the state of our industry. Image: iStock/TCmake_photo
Ealier this year, we called on readers to help assess the state of our industry. Image: iStock/TCmake_photo

Related tags Disposable Stainless steel

Biomanufacturers have fully embraced disposable technologies but the market is controlled by a handful of vendors keeping equipment costs high, our reader survey reveals.

Almost 250 of you responded to a state of the industry survey earlier this summer, giving Biopharma-Reporter some understanding into how the biopharma sector currently sits and where it is heading.

What is clear from the results is the use of disposable technologies is now standard among biopharma manufacturers, with 70% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing this is the case.

This parallels the consensus among experts​ seen at recent industry shows that stainless steel technologies – though far from redundant - have become the niche single-use was five years ago.

Ceding control to a handful of suppliers

Yet, as the infographic above shows, the shift to single-use has left the market in the control of just a handful of suppliers, according to 61% of respondents.

The finding is consistent with reasons given to this publication last month​ in Korea by biosimiar powerhouse Celltrion and nearby CMO Samsung Biologics for furnishing their large-scale biomanufacturing facilities with stainless steel.

Meanwhile other drugmakers have also sparked concerns​ about supply chain reliability when ceding control to disposable suppliers, as well as the high costs of single-use equipment.

And according to our survey, just 21% disagree that a lack of competition in this space is keeping prices of disposable equipment artificially high, while over a quarter do not believe industry is fully confident in using disposable technologies.

Despite this, the majority of respondents are of the opinion that regulatory agencies fully support single-use, and almost 60% are confident that end-users are working well together to develop new technologies in the space.

Continuous Innovation

This is being seen with industry collaborations such as Bio-Process Systems Alliance (BPSA) and the BioPhorum Operations Group (BPOG).

As far as our readers go, almost half (48%) believe further innovation is needed in upstream and downstream disposable technologies, compared to just 7% wanting more research into stainless systems.

But 55% believe innovation is needed in continuous technologies, an area process tech firm LEWA told us last month​ is “the hottest trend in the biopharma industry… even more so than single-use.”


And finally among the questions focused specifically on bioprocessing, readers were split on their views about current capacity availability.

Just 9% believe there is too much capacity currently available, while 37% believe there is not enough for industry’s needs, mirroring the recent views of CMO Patheon that “there’s a real hunger out there for capacity,”

However, over half our respondents are happy with the current levels of capacity available.

Yet when looking deeper, our survey shows there is no clear view as to whether biopharma firms are content with their reliance on third party manufacturers. While 37% belive industry is too reliant on CMOs, 25% believe we should be using third parties more.

The full Biopharma-Reporter state of the biopharmaceutical industry report is still available to download for free here​.

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Difco TC Yeastolate UF in scale-up optimization

Difco TC Yeastolate UF in scale-up optimization

Content provided by Thermo Fisher Scientific Gibco Culture for Bioprocessing | 16-Oct-2023 | White Paper

Review the impact of—not only adding peptones as a supplement to your cell culture—but also the importance of concentration and timing as a feed strategy...

Related suppliers