Tech transfer: a viable solution to building pharmaceutical capability


Sounds far-fetched, I know. Especially when the reality is that there are many nations in the world where pharmaceutical manufacturing capability is rudimentary or non-existent. Some of these countries depend entirely on imports for their entire quota of medications.

As recent history shows, all nations irrespective of their economic status, seem to struggle with the costs and benefits of developing their healthcare sectors. This to me defies logic – healthy people are after all more productive people, and productive people equals a healthier economy.

Building pharmaceutical capability isn’t always a top priority for governments in populous developing and underdeveloped nations. Most struggle to ensure their citizens have consistent access to food and shelter. The more a country spends on healthcare, the less it has for other key areas like infrastructure. Each country approaches this problem with its own set of priorities, and often their budgets do not prioritise healthcare of their citizens. Some do work towards building state-owned pharmaceutical capability but as history has shown, India being a prime example, this is not always the best option for the government or the patient. Though NGOs and international aid bodies fill in the gap admirably, they tend to have specific focus areas.

I genuinely believe that the solution to this universal problem lies in building indigenous pharmaceutical capability for high-quality generics and biosimilars, at least to start with. The key to successful outcomes here would be the seamless dovetailing of the physical manufacturing infrastructure with the know-how of optimised manufacturing processes of the products in need.

Even in case of high-quality generics/biosimilars, the process technology transfer from established manufacturers/development labs is essential. The development lab may be in-house or external, but tech transfer from lab/pilot scale to commercial scale assumes significant importance. It’s here that engineering design ought to be such that it enables transfer of technology from a wide spectrum of processes.

Also with intricate engineering design, the manufacturing can expand as desired without creating unused capacity right from the start.

Building pharmaceutical capability for high-quality generics in developing economies has tremendous advantages beyond the obvious including job creation, lower costs and a healthier economy. And by building capability for essential medicines, it is a logical extension to address indigenous diseases and epidemics through tech transfer.

Governments have an essential role to play as well to deliver this objective. They must make it easy to deliver such contractual agreements and not wage a trade war that has an adverse impact on the healthcare of the underprivileged. Nations that have to import all their drug and medication needs can even attract pharma companies to set up manufacture by offering free land and infrastructure on the condition that essential medicines are given free.

Given the complexity associated with technology transfer, having a capable and experienced engineering partner is essential for the success of the project. With the right partner, you can simplify processes at the start, save manufacturing costs, solve difficult production issues, and help expand capabilities into new product areas without investing in additional equipment or staff expertise. Most importantly it speeds up the time to market.

Talk to us about how we can help you build pharmaceutical capability in your country.