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Optimism reigned at drug conference

Firms at DCAT touted investment in large and small molecules

by Rick Mullin
March 27, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 13

Credit: Cambrex
The small-molecule API is alive and well at Cambrex’s expanded plant in Charles City, Iowa.
Photo of workers working at a batch manufacturing plant for chemicals.
Credit: Cambrex
The small-molecule API is alive and well at Cambrex’s expanded plant in Charles City, Iowa.

Members of the Drug, Chemical & Associated Technologies Association converged on New York City last week for DCAT Week, an annual conclave anchored by what has been billed as the city’s largest black tie dinner.

This year, DCAT was held at the New York Hilton while its usual home, the Waldorf Astoria, is renovated. Attendees, many of whom are suppliers of pharmaceutical chemicals, were upbeat as they continued to ride a years-long wave of rising profitability.

But signs of change were afoot for drug chemical companies, whose customers have an increasing appetite for research and formulation services as well as for large-molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients. Several service firms outlined new ventures in areas such as final dosage formulation and biologic drugs.

Kevin Daley, director of pharmaceuticals for the French contract services company Novasep, discussed his firm’s new $11 million bioconjugation facility in Le Mans during a DCAT member company announcement forum. Novasep seeks to integrate services for large and small molecules as a supplier of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

“The average ADC goes around the world twice in terms of supply chain,” Daley said. Novasep wants to offer customers one-stop ADC production services by providing all needed components, including chromatography, cytotoxic testing, and biologics manufacturing. The firm’s next move will be to add fill-and-finish services through a partnership it hopes to announce later this year.

Many companies remain focused on small-molecule APIs, however, and continue to invest. Later this year, the Italian company Flamma is opening a $20 million facility in China featuring an R&D center with 100 m3 of production capacity. Next year, Flamma will start construction on a $5 million expansion of its headquarters R&D facility.

Small-molecule stalwart Cambrex continues to expand. CEO Steven Klosk told attendees at a company dinner that the firm has invested more than $200 million over the past four years, including major expansions in Charles City, Iowa, and Karlskoga, Sweden. “Phase II and III work grew 9% last year,” he said, “meaning we will soon have some new approved drugs.”



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