Pharma CDMOs with sky-high ambitions

Feb. 29, 2024
A snapshot of the bold CDMOs working to build pharma’s modern treatments

While many images depict history, few images make it. On October 2, 1932, with the U.S. fully in the grips of the Great Depression, a photo appeared in the New York Herald-Tribune Sunday edition, and quickly struck a chord with the public.

Captioned “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” the photo showed 11 ironworkers eating lunch on a steel beam 850 feet above New York City. Although the shot eventually came under fire for being a staged publicity stunt during the construction of Rockefeller Center, it still became an iconic part of American history.

The photo is legendary both because of what it captured and what it came to symbolize. The public saw anonymous immigrant laborers, casual in the face of an extremely imposing endeavor. The workers came across as gritty, courageous and confident in what they do.

During one of the toughest times in our country’s history, the photo represented ambition and resilience amidst tremendous obstacles. It was emblematic of the building project that put tens of thousands of people to work in the middle of the Depression, showing the world that America was still constructing a future.

Though it’s one of the most replicated and reimagined photos in history, we could think of no better way to convey the message of this month’s cover feature.

Across the board, the pharma industry is facing sky-high pressures to bring drugs to market quickly, safely and affordably. Those hoping to bring complex modern therapies to market are in a particularly precarious situation. As sterile injectables and cell and gene therapies become more embedded in the foundation of health care, pharma has reached a critical juncture where science has outpaced the industry’s ability to build treatments. For some patients, such as those on growing waitlists for approved CAR-T cell therapies, this dearth of manufacturing capacity is potentially deadly.

Facing this daunting landscape, pharma companies are enlisting the help of focused contract manufacturers to shape their therapies from the ground up. CDMOs, who so often go unnamed and unsung, have now become integral to forging the future of pharma.

The four promising CDMOs we’ve chosen to profile in our March issue — ten23 health, Cellares, INCOG BioPharma Services and Matica Biotechnology — are elevating themselves above the rest with disruptive technologies, nontraditional organizational structures and deeply ingrained commitments to their company values.

Launching a new company into a crowded contracting space isn’t for the faint of heart — it demands expertise, ingenuity and a willingness to embrace risk. Fortunately, a new generation of CDMOs are boldly positioning themselves to become pillars of pharmaceutical progress.

About the Author

Karen P. Langhauser | Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

Karen currently serves as Pharma Manufacturing's chief content director.

Now having dedicated her entire career to b2b journalism, Karen got her start writing for Food Manufacturing magazine. She made the decision to trade food for drugs in 2013, when she joined Putman Media as the digital content manager for Pharma Manufacturing, later taking the helm on the brand in 2016.

As an award-winning journalist with 20+ years experience writing in the manufacturing space, Karen passionately believes that b2b content does not have to suck. As the content director, her ongoing mission has been to keep Pharma Manufacturing's editorial look, tone and content fresh and accessible.

Karen graduated with honors from Bucknell University, where she majored in English and played Division 1 softball for the Bison. Happily living in NJ's famed Asbury Park, Karen is a retired Garden State Rollergirl, known to the roller derby community as the 'Predator-in-Chief.'