Symbiosis growing on aseptic demand from US biotech

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/claudiodivizia
Image: iStock/claudiodivizia

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A robust investment environment and high quality demands have driven US biotech business to UK-based sterile manufacturer Symbiosis, the firm says.

A year on since the Stirling, UK-based contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) bolstered its US presence​, Symbiosis Pharmaceutical Services has reported business is booming, driven by a number of new North American biotechs contracting the firm for small scale aseptic manufacturing to support clinical trials.

The surge in demand has been driven by “a changing investor climate towards biotech firms in the US,” ​Symbiosis CEO Colin MacKay told this publication. “As there is greater investment happening, this is leading to companies needing to progress clinical projects and meet key milestones.”

This – along with increased demand in Europe and Asia too - has seen Symbiosis grow by around 50% over the last 12 months.                                                                                                                     

The firm was originally set up to provide fill/finish services for clinical products, but in August 2014​ was awarded a manufacturing and wholesale license by the UK’s MHRA, enabling it to offer commercial services. And last year the CMO announced plans to increase capacity at its facility by 20%.

On top of this, a drop in global sterile drug contracting capacity – the behemoth Ben Venue Labs facility shut its doors in 2013​ after years of quality issues – has left Symbiosis well-placed to continue its growth spurt, MacKay said.

“Quality has always been the foundation of everything we do at Symbiosis. Given quality issues elsewhere in the industry, clients are rightly vigilant when placing their projects with sterile CMOs.”


A manufacturing suite in Scotland is a long way from a Californian biotech, but issues such as lack of customer oversight, different time zones, and logistics are not restricting Symbiosis’s US potential, MacKay told us.

“This is a global industry and most US firms we have dealt with are used to using multiple partners, irrespective of location,” he said.

“By investing in our project management team and systems e.g. an online and electronic project reporting facility, we are able to work with clients to address time differences and manage projects with multiple partners, globally. The logistics are addressed by using specialist life sciences international couriers with routine experience and compliance of EU-US traffic.”

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