Trends in pharma/biopharma support the demand for analytical instrumentation

By Amethyst Holder, The Science Advisory Board contributing writer

November 1, 2021 -- Implementing the appropriate laboratory instrumentation to support therapeutic development is crucial to the process of drug discovery. Life science and analytical instrumentation facilitates pharmaceutical R&D throughout these stages. Strategic Directions International (SDi) has observed the dynamics of the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sector, analyzing demand for instrumentation to support innovative biologics, small molecule drugs, regenerative pharmaceuticals, and biopharmaceuticals.

Most of these drug development activities reside within pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and contract research organizations, which comprise a significant portion of the overall market for laboratory instrumentation. For the companies that supply these analytical tools, demand from the pharma/bio sector has been a stable engine of growth over the last several decades.

The trends within pharma/biopharma have leaned heavily toward strategic partnership and cost sharing, particularly in earlier stages of drug development. New biologics, vaccines, and therapeutics require significant investments in life science and analytical instrumentation, consumables, and services. Some of the major trends in pharma/bio development in the near term are discussed below.

Rapid approvals of novel therapeutics

Rapid drug approvals will likely remain a trend for emerging pathogens of public health concern and rare diseases. This is not a new development, but the sector will benefit from shortened time from discovery to market if this trend continues among regulators.

However, the accelerated discovery process could also encourage competition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently committed to ramping up the approval of biosimilars and generics. This level of competition will, however, benefit consumers and further streamline workflows as the drug development process shifts its focus to lower overall costs, automation, and a reduced time to market to enhance profitability.

Increased investment in cell and gene therapy

Notably, workflows for cell and gene therapies have benefited greatly from partnerships across pharmaceuticals/biopharmaceuticals and other public and private research organizations. Cell and gene therapy is expected to benefit from increased research interest, as the FDA anticipates as many as 20 new cell and gene therapies will hit the market as approved drugs annually by 2025.

In addition to the 22 approved cell and gene therapy products currently on the market, the FDA is preparing for more than 200 investigational new drug applications. In the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, cell and gene therapies targeting the nervous system and cancers have accounted for two-fifths of overall investment funding and a third of all research funding since 2012. Investment in cell and gene therapy within the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sectors will continue with renewed zeal across regions.

Global investment in biotechnology companies, CMOs, and CROs

The development of new lab capacity requires significant investment in instrumentation. Internal and external funding is driving demand for such instrumentation for both established entities and startups.

In European countries, the newest biotech entrants focus on several priorities: drug discovery tools and services, diagnostic and personalized care, contract research organizations (CROs), and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). Future market growth from the industry has benefited from the expansion of viable therapeutic modalities, especially as analytical techniques evolve to accommodate regenerative and precision medicines, high-throughput screening, automation, and increasing reliance on CROs and CMOs for scale up.

Changes in the demand for life science and analytical instrumentation supporting these trends are further elucidated in SDi's recently published "2021 Global Biopharma and Pharma Laboratory Market" report. The report provides an in-depth examination of the major technologies used in the pharma/bio sector, encompassing 45 technologies in nine categories. Historical growth trends and forecasts for demand over the next five years are included.

Amethyst Holder is a market analyst at Strategic Directions International (SDi), the leading business intelligence firm in the highly specialized field of analytical and life science instruments.

Disclosure: is a sister company of SDi.

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