How Different CDMOs Moved the Ball Forward For COVID-19 Vaccines

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In the past year, many companies and individuals have all asked themselves: when is everything going back to normal? The short answer to this question lies in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

But even that answer raises more questions. Who develops the vaccines? Where do the materials come from? Finally, how is the world going to distribute several billion vaccines across hundreds of thousands of miles?

Enter CDMOs, or contract development and manufacturing companies. These companies partner with pharmaceutical companies and researchers to develop and distribute medicines and medical devices. Depending on the partnership and the nature of the client, they also offer many other services, like packaging and analytical services. Together, a CDMO and a pharmaceutical client can create a symbiotic relationship to benefit each other and ultimately produce a better product.

Many CDMOs exist today, but not all CDMOs are equal. Some specialize in different fields, while others are large enough to work with multiple clients at once. But a CDMO is best known through the services it offers and reputation with clients.

The Top CDMOs

The world’s top CDMOs vary in approach and style. But all of them are dedicated to helping the world’s population stay healthy and survive.

1. Samsung Biologics

The world’s fastest growing CDMO started expansion plans significantly in 2020. Their end-of-the-year report found that 2020 brought the company a 66 percent increase in revenue. The global company reported the highest sales in history in their fourth quarter. Adding on to their massive growth, they have extensive plans to expand their geographic reach.

Recently Samsung Biologics entered into multiple partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to manufacture COVID-19 treatments. These include a partnership with AstraZeneca, which signed a $330 million contract with Samsung Biologics for large-scale commercial manufacturing of drug substances.

CEO John Rim also recently highlighted Samsung Biologics’ focus on future endeavors that would all be designed to serve the organization’s mission and consistent commitment to innovation. Areas of focus for future growth include rapid expansion of the company’s CDMO business and its biosimilar affiliate, as well as the development of new business models as part of the company’s strategy of multidimensional portfolio expansion. Future pursuits also include the completion of a fourth plant expected to begin manufacturing in early 2023, offering the largest single-site manufacturing capacity of any facility on earth.

At a recent event, Rim said, “With a steadfast vision and unrelenting drive to achieve better life for all, we embrace responsibility, expertise, and pride in our work, and will continue on our noble mission to enable improved accessibility of biomedicines and consequently the quality of life for people around the globe.”

2. Lonza

One of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Lonza reported a 12 percent increase in sales at the end of 2020. CEO Pierre-Alain Ruffieux said of the Swiss CDMO, “The full-year results reflect our commitment and focus to maintaining operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while making an active and decisive contribution to controlling it.” The business also announced its decision to redesign its branches to be more effective.

Part of the reason for Lonza’s success in the past year stems from their partnership with Moderna. The company will manufacture 400 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine annually, according to Reuters. While Moderna has its own production facility, Lonza plans on building four more facilities to speed up the production of the 400 million it has agreed to make. While the company wants to add even more lines in other parts of the world, like Singapore, it has decided to focus on the four for now.

Lonza isn’t just focusing on COVID-19, however. The company is also looking to help manufacture treatments for other diseases, including medicines for sickle cell disease.  It has also been named one of the most ethical companies, according to Ethisphere.

3. Siegfried

Another Swiss CDMO, Siegfried, has also managed to make a profit in these turbulent times. According to a news release, the company noted a 10.4 percent increase in profit at the end of 2020. It acquired two new manufacturing sites for medical devices and treatments. Furthermore, it also implemented a new corporate strategy for growth and development in the last year. Even though the company faced many challenges due to COVID-19, it still managed to shine.

The company also worked to help produce a COVID-19 vaccine, much like other successful CDMOs. Siegfried signed a contract with BioNTech, a German immunotherapy company. The CDMO will fill and package a potential COVID-19 treatment. This vaccine was developed with Pfizer.

CEO Dr. Wolfgang Wienan said, “As a leading CDMO company with a strong global manufacturing network, Siegfried is in a position to take on technologically demanding tasks at short notice and to quickly build up the necessary capacities.” While the contract will end the first phase in 2022, it will only lead to a strategic partnership between the two companies. Both sides are excited for the full potential this contract could bring.

4. Cambrex

One of the leading drug companies in the world, Cambrex has been investing heavily in expansion in the United States. The CDMO has invested $50 million in opening three facilities in the United States, along with a mid-scale work center in the state of Iowa.

Cambrex is best known for small-molecule drug development. It takes a phase-based approach to developing treatments for diseases and viruses like COVID-19. Some of these phases include evaluation, planning, and assessment. But the biggest ingredients of all in this process include trust and frequent communication. Cambrex ensures quality work for every one of its clients.

Based in New Jersey, Cambrex plans on offering reliable drug production and manufacturing to pharmaceutical companies. With global tensions on the rise, the United States has laid emphasis on the need for domestic drug manufacturing.

CEO Tom Loewald stated, “Demand for small molecule manufacturing constantly grows and evolves, and we are committed to investing in the capacity, capabilities and expertise to further strengthen our position as a market-leading CDMO delivering customized, customer-centric solutions.”

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