CMOs move toward disposable manufacturing tech

The CMO units of Merck KGaA and Boehringer Ingelheim are investing in single-use, disposable technologies in their manufacturing processes, saying the move will help their clients get drugs on the market faster than traditional methods.

Merck Millipore, the larger company's manufacturing arm, opened a new facility in Martillac, France, planning to use single-use equipment to produce mammalian proteins for pre-clinical to Phase II production. Meanwhile, Boehringer is setting up disposable capabilities at its sites in Biberach, Germany, and Fremont, CA.

Merck Millipore's new shop in France combines contract manufacturing with the company's development services, something Christophe Couturier, vice president of services, said will help the company stand out in the CMO market, Outsourcing-Pharma reports. The new plant will employ 95 people and be capable to run 10 to 12 projects at once, the company said.

For Boehringer, implementing single-use technology will help it speed along its production units, such as bioreactors, sampling, filtration and purification systems, FiercePharmaManufacturing reports. The company claims that its flexible manufacturing system will allow clients to take a project from molecule to drug product in 16 months.

Disposable technologies have become more popular among manufacturers in recent years, allowing CMOs to shorten turn-around times by using pre-sterilized technologies. However, as FiercePharmaManufacturing points out, some drugmakers remain wary of single-use methods, as a survey from market researcher BioPlan Associates last year found that more than 40% of respondents said the technology lacked "clear regulatory guidance on leachables and extractables."

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