- What are the macro trends you see in the pharma CRO field today?
Over the near future, we expect the CRO market, especially in Asia, to show robust growth due to the following drivers: Firstly, outsourcing in discovery has become a ‘must have’ strategy over the past few years. The pandemic, where a number of customer sites were shut down for an extended period only reinforced this trend. Every company, whether a large pharma or a young biotech, all have externalization as key element of their core growth plan. Secondly, significant capital is still flowing into the life sciences industry, with 2020 attracting over $23B in venture investments. These new firms all need CRO services. Finally, while there are a few CRO’s in Europe, the principal outsourcing hubs still reside in the East, mainly in India and China, and hence CRO’s in those two geographies can expect to be key beneficiaries of the capital trends.
What are the opportunities for India in outsourced discovery, development, and manufacturing services?
Discovery: We expect India, specifically, to secure a higher share of the growth in discovery outsourcing. During the past decade, China became the desired location for discovery externalization due to larger capital investments, better infrastructure, and the governmental requirement that customers need to be in China to sell in China. India is now on par with China on key infrastructure, has a better cost position, and is now benefitting from the risk diversification strategy that a number of our customers are implementing, as they want to now have a significant footprint in India, along with China.
- The pandemic and some of the recent trade wars with the US and China, have been the key drivers behind these diversification plans.Development & Manufacturing: The pandemic has resulted in migration of some clinical and commercial supplies of APIs moving back into the West. Nevertheless, the West just does not have enough capacity to manufacture all steps of the API. So we expect to see a number of Starting Materials, Intermediates, Advanced Intermediates, and Regulated Starting Materials being supplied from the East even as the final steps are carried out in the West. Net-net, we expect India to grow and benefit from the expected growth in needs for API and Drug Product manufacturing.
- Your future plans for Aragen?
Aragen is a global leader and ‘partner of choice’ in small molecule discovery, and a rapidly growing brand in small molecule development and manufacturing. In large molecules, we are known for Cell Line Development, where we work with, and succeed in expressing, some of the most challenging proteins. As we look ahead, we are investing and adding to our discovery footprint both in Hyderabad and Bangalore, as our customers’ discovery needs are growing rapidly. In Development and manufacturing, we recently invested significantly in expansions, and now have the capacity to meet our customers immediate future needs. In Biologics, we are advancing downstream, and investing in a manufacturing facility in the US to offer a single seamless solution to our customers that want to develop and manufacture at one shop.