Biopharmaceutical companies – Pharmaceutical Companies Becoming Biopharmaceutical Companies

There is an enormous transformation that is taking over the pharmaceutical industry. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical companies all over the world are developing their own, acquiring other pre-existing, and/or working with external biopharmaceutical functions. Now more aptly and/or even specifically called biopharmaceutical companies, these brands are using the cutting edge of biomedical research to produce medications for medical conditions that may otherwise not have any available treatment options at all.

In this article, we’ll first discuss both what a pharmaceutical company is in general and what actually especially constitutes biopharmaceutical companies. We’ll further go over examples of large pharmaceutical companies, many of which are or are becoming more biopharmaceutical in nature. Lastly, we’ll elaborate on a rapidly growing star in the world of biopharmaceutical companies – Samsung Biologics – outlining their function, capabilities, and COVID-19 contributions.

A pharmaceutical company is a business that plays a role in discovering, developing, manufacturing, distributing, and/or marketing drugs for use as medications. Patients who are administered and/or self-consume these medications do so with the intent of curing, vaccinating, and/or alleviating illnesses that they may have. Biopharmaceutical companies are specific types of pharmaceutical companies that specialize in the production of biopharmaceutical drugs. More specifically, biopharmaceutical agents are manufactured in, extracted from, or at least semi-synthetized from biological sources. Thus, biopharmaceutical companies produce drugs that are actually biological versus what is commonly thought of or even known as chemical in nature. Examples of these novel biopharmaceutical medications include vaccines, blood, blood products, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapies tissues, recombinant therapeutic protein(s), and living medicines utilized in cell therapy.

Some notable pharmaceutical companies, many of whom are already collaborating with or at least are beginning to collaborate with biopharmaceutical companies to especially fight the coronavirus pandemic, include the following:

–          Pfizer

o   Headquarters location: New York, New York, USA

o   Current market capitalization: $202.16 billion

–          Roche

o   Headquarters location: Basel, Switzerland

o   Current market capitalization: $297.40 billion

–          Novartis

o   Headquarters location: Basel, Switzerland

o   Current market capitalization: $215.92 billion

–          Merck

o   Headquarters location: Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA

o   Current market capitalization: $204.36 billion

–          GlaxoSmithKline

o   Headquarters location: Brentford, United Kingdom

o   Current market capitalization: $186.85 billion

–          Johnson & Johnson

o   Headquarters location: New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

o   Current market capitalization: $385.02 billion

–          AbbVie

o   Headquarters location: North Chicago, Illinois, USA

o   Current market capitalization: $151.99 billion

–          Sanofi

o   Headquarters location: Paris, France

o   Current market capitalization: $127.10 billion

–          Bristol-Myers Squibb

o   Headquarters location: New York, New York, USA

o   Current market capitalization: $132.35 billion

–          AstraZeneca

o   Headquarters location: Cambridge, United Kingdom

o   Current market capitalization: $142.30 billion

As an even more prominent example, Samsung Biologics is a rising star amongst biopharmaceutical companies. They are a special type of pharmaceutical company known as a CDMO, which stands for Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization. CDMO’s typically work with many other pharmaceutical companies to sometimes discover but mainly develop and manufacture these clients’ drugs on their behalf as outsourced, contracted partners. Samsung Biologics is headquartered in Incheon, South Korea and have a behemoth present-day market capitalization of around 45.59 trillion KRW, which equates to roughly $39.18 billion.

They accomplish their fully-integrated approach through combining their Contract Research Organization (CRO), Contract Development Organization (CDO), and Contract Manufacturing Organization (CMO) functions. Some of these CRO functions are biosafety testing services and analytical testing services; more specifically, this includes development stage to drug substance products for lot release tests of mycoplasma and virus detection, cell bank manufacturing, cell line characterization, and viral clearance study. Some of these CDO functions are cell line development, process development, performance, and manufacturing; more specifically, this includes cell line development, MCB banking and characterization, upstream process development, downstream process development, formulation development, analytical method development, non-GMP drug substance and drug product production, drug substance and drug product IND stability, cGMP drug substance manufacturing, cGMP drug substance stability study, cGMP drug product manufacturing, cGMP drug product stability study, and IND filing support. And some of these CMO functions are drug substance and drug product options; more specifically, this includes tech transfers, clinical and commercial manufacturing, aseptic fill/finish, and analytical testing.

Samsung Biologics is currently at the forefront of playing a vital role in the fight against coronavirus, the culprit responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. They have scored massive deals with multiple noteworthy biopharmaceutical companies, some which are listed above, to produce vaccines that may curtail the world population’s current suffering. Earlier this 2020 year in April, they entered into a $362 million agreement with Vir Biotechnology to produce its coronavirus vaccine candidates – VIR-7831 and VIR-7832. Later in May, GlaxoSmithKline signed a $231 million contract with them to produce medications across their entire biologics portfolio, which also includes coronavirus vaccine candidates – most notably one in partnership with another pharmaceutical giant named Sanofi – amongst others. Then in August, Samsung Biologics announced the construction of a $2 billion “super plant” at its Incheon headquarters that is as large as three normal-sized facilities combined, just to keep up with COVID-19 related orders. And most recently in September, a strategic manufacturing partnership was signed with AstraZeneca for $331 million that could be increased to $546 million to support their biologics therapeutics programs.

Pharmaceutical companies come in a variety of forms, but particularly with the advent of the COVID-19 times, biopharmaceutical companies have seen rapidly increasing relevance. Though many of the largest pharmaceutical companies were already becoming involved in biopharmaceuticals, the ongoing pandemic has resulted in more relevantly aggressive moves by many leading industry players. Of note are those made by Samsung Biologics, which has inked several enormous deals in recent times, most with other large participants of the game, to cement their position as a mainstay biopharmaceutical company.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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