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Executives Ponder Growth and Efficiency

by Rick Mullin
March 22, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 12

The roster of fine chemicals and pharmaceutical industry conferences clustered around the annual Drug, Chemical & Allied Trades Association dinner in New York City last Thursday looked at prospects for growth in the drug sector.

Graham Lewis, vice president of European pharma strategy for IMS Health, commented on the appropriateness of meeting each year on or around the ides of March. “It reminds me of how the industry talks about itself in public,” he said at IMS’s annual PharmaChemical Horizons seminar. “It’s always doom and gloom, but somehow you manage to turn in an acceptable performance.”

Lewis noted that U.S. pharmaceutical sales grew 11.1% last year to $230 billion, below their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.2% from 1998 to 2002. Worldwide, sales grew 9.3% last year to $492 billion, compared with the five-year CAGR of 10.4%.

Growth through improved efficiency was a major theme. Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation & Research, told attendees at Interphex 2004, a pharmaceutical engineering and services exhibition, that FDA is moving to incorporate “new science” and a flexible risk analysis approach into the process of validating drug production sites.

Nick Shackley, a vice president with Cambrex’s pharma and biopharma business units, emphasized the need for steep improvement in biopharmaceutical production efficiency as a means of meeting capacity requirements. Predicting the field will be dominated by mammalian cell culture techniques, Shackley told a reception at the Chemists’ Club of New York that biopharmaceuticals will maintain an annual growth rate of about 15%.


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