Many Knives in the Air

Contract manufacturers use their talents to juggle the risks of multi-product manufacturing

By Karen Langhauser, Chief Content Director

Throughout my travels, I’ve witnessed a lot of incredible street performances. From Las Ramblas in Barcelona to Jackson Square in New Orleans to the subway platforms of NYC, I’ve been consistently awed by the amount of talent human beings possess.

The art of street performing has a colorful, global history – one that comes in many forms. For example, in the 19th century, “medicine shows” migrated over to the United States from Europe. Predating drug regulations, these performances involved medicine men who would draw in crowds using various forms of entertainment, including magic, ventriloquism or juggling. Ultimately, they were hocking feel-good elixirs backed by dubious health improvement claims, but it was the entertainment aspect of the show that attracted the crowds. People would walk away from the performances uplifted and in better spirits.

While tips are always appreciated, today’s street performances have evolved from a swindle into an art form. Performance art, like contract manufacturing in pharma, is a talent that needs to be practiced and refined. The right combination of experience, equipment and technical skills are necessary for success. Today’s contract manufacturers are juggling (sorry, couldn’t resist) multiple products from multiple clients, while simultaneously delivering impeccable quality on tight timelines – and this responsibility carries with it a lot of risk.

Managing a multi-product facility in the pharmaceutical industry is truly an art form – an art that has become a business requirement for today’s contract manufacturers. This month’s cover story lends some insight into the methodologies, technologies, and strategies being prioritized by leading contract manufacturers in their quests for contamination control, efficiency and flexibility. As pharma manufacturers pursue success in a landscape that demands flexibility, who better to share tricks-of-the-trade than those whose business model relies on the ability to master the multi-product environment?

Contract manufacturers, like anonymous street performers, assume a lot of risk without the promise of glory. But at the end of the night, while you may not leave knowing the street performer’s name, you do walk away in awe of his performance. And while a patient whose life is made better by a safe and effective drug may not be aware of the contract manufacturer who made it, they are still impressed with its impact on their lives.

And speaking of performances that involve a bit of danger, I’m thrilled to announce that Pharmaceutical Manufacturing has hired Meagan Parrish as our senior editor. Aside from her experience as an editor and writer across several manufacturing industries, Meagan also has been known to perform on stage with fire and swords – which makes her well-equipped to handle working with me. So be on the lookout for Meagan at industry events, within the pages of our magazine, and maybe even on stage at your neighborhood fire show.

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