An ex-GSK exec told delegates at a conference last year that pharma firms do not want to be managing hundreds of contractors, but instead want to have around ten partners in their network for reasons of simplicity.
Speaking with Outsourcing-Pharma at the CPhI Worldwide event in Madrid last week, Aesica’s CEO Ian Muir said “large to mid-sized pharma could have anything up to 400 individual suppliers just for product, let alone intermediates,” while “small virtual companies with a fairly limited portfolio may have over 100 different touch points with service providers.”
While he agreed that at a macro level pharma is looking to reduce this level, he told us firms are struggling to do this especially where they have a lot of smaller more complex products which one CMO cannot offer.
Therefore, he explained, his firm has launched a service to simplify supply chain management with Aesica itself taking on the management of a pharma customer’s manufacturing partners. While this will not reduce the number of CDMOs, it intends to reduce the burden of dealing with them, he said.
“We consolidate product supply or products for customers from a number of sources,” Muir said. “Intuitively people say would industry be open to one CDMO working with a number of other CDMOs to provide that consolidation service, but we’re doing it routinely and what it does is give the customer an opportunity to simplify their supply chain.”
According to Muir, there are several models available to customers: “In some situations the contractual relationship remains with the pharma company, so we’re managing the logistics and consolidation, and actually the supply relationship rests with the pharma and the third party; in other cases we actually pick up that relationship.”
And despite having one CDMO managing others, there have been no conflicts of interest or resistance from other outsourcing partners towards Aesica.
“Customers like it as it means there is one less thing that they have to manage,” Muir said. “From the other CDMOs I would have thought there would be more barriers but the reality is they treat us like another supplier and so it hasn’t been an issue.
“Because we are working on behalf of a pharma customer in a way there’s almost a warranty behind it, as even though we’re providing the service, they know it is being provided on behalf of someone else.”