CDMOs Play a Critical Role in Getting COVID-19 Vaccines to the Public

During 2020 and the first half of 2021, people all over the world have watched with anxious anticipation as scientists, researchers, and manufacturers have rushed to produce the vaccines and distribution methods necessary to slow and eventually put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. As people all over the world wonder when their lives will be able to finally return to something resembling what they recognize, the question has consistently boiled down to this— how quickly can vaccines be produced, distributed, and administered to as many people as possible?

While there have been high-profile names and developments along the path, with companies such as Pfizer and Moderna getting top billing on news websites for their versions of the vaccine, there are other names that may not be as recognizable for the general public. However, the incredibly complex process that goes into the development and manufacturing of vaccines involves a wide range of organizations.

Many of these organizations are CDMOs, or contract development and manufacturing companies. These CDMOs partner with researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and developers to go above and beyond what they would be capable of themselves when it comes to development, manufacturing, and distribution of medicine, medical devices, and vaccines. Traditionally, CDMOs and their clients work closely together to produce a better final product and distribute that final product more efficiently and at a larger scale. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that relationship has become even more important and lifesaving than ever.

Here are a few of the top CDMOs who have contributed to helping end the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as some general information about recent developments in their organizations.

Top CDMOs and their Contributions

Wondering which CDMOs are making the biggest impact in the COVID-19 fight and in the realm of pharmaceuticals generally? Here are a few of the leading names and what they’re up to now and in the future.

  1. Samsung Biologics

Samsung Biologics is one of the fastest growing CDMOs in the world, and their most intense period of expansion occurred over the course of 2020. In addition to a 66% spike in revenue over the course of that year, they also reported their highest sales quarter in the company’s history and an enormous expansion of their reach. 

But perhaps most significantly, Samsung Biologics became a key player in the manufacturing of COVID-19 treatments. In 2020 they partnered with AstraZeneca for a $330 million contract that involved Samsung Biologics’ commercial manufacturing capabilities helping aid AstraZeneca’s vital missions.

Meanwhile, Samsung Biologics remains committed to the future, when they’ll continue to serve their mission of consistent innovation and client service as well as service to the health of humankind. Future growth was recently outlined in a talk by the company’s CEO, John Rim, who laid out plans for rapid expansion of their CDMO business , new business models to expand the dimensionality of their portfolio, and the completion of a fourth plant for use in early 2023. This facility, when completed, will provide the largest single-site manufacturing capacity of any facility on the planet.

  • Lonza

Lonza lays claim to the title of one of the world’s oldest pharmaceutical companies, but their best days certainly aren’t behind them. They reported a 12% increase in sales in 2020, and their CEO Pierre=Alain Ruffieux had this to say: 

“The full-year results reflect our commitment and focus to maintaining operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while making an active and decisive contribution to controlling it.”

Lonza’s biggest partnership has been with the vaccine developer Moderna, as they have agreed to manufacture close to half a billion doses of the Moderna vaccine each year. In fact, Lonza announced plans to build an additional four facilities with the express purpose of manufacturing more vaccine doses as quickly as possible. 

In addition to its work focusing on COVID-19, Lonza has also been helping develop treatments for diseases such as sickle cell disease and earned the title of one of the most ethical companies in the world in a ranking by Ethisphere.

  • Siegfried

At the end of the fiscal year 2020, Siegfried reported an increase in profit of over 10%. This came on the back of its two additional manufacturing sites for medical treatments and medical devices, as well as a brand new corporate strategy designed to emphasize growth even as the company faced the unique challenges presented by the pandemic.

Like other CDMOs on our list, Siegfried was instrumental in helping develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. They partnered with BioNTech, a German company that developed their own version of the vaccine in partnership with Pfizer and is now using Siegfried as a partner in manufacturing and distributing it.

CEO Dr. Wolfgang Wienan said, “As a leading CDMO company with a strong global manufacturing network, Siegfried is in a position to take on technologically demanding tasks at short notice and to quickly build up the necessary capacities.”

  • Cambrex

If you had to sum up Cambrex’s focus over the last year and in its future plans, it would be U.S. expansion. This leading pharmaceutical company has been consistently investing in expansion within the U.S., as part of a strategy to help keep the company isolated against global tensions by retaining United States operations and facilities as much as possible. They’ve invested $50 million in three additional facilities across the country, as well as a work center in Iowa.

Cambrex’s most recent claim to faim is their small-molecule drug development system, which has been used to develop treatments for diseases that include COVID-19. The phases include evaluation, planning, and assessment, as well as a commitment to communication between all involved parties.

Cambrex CEO Tom Loewald had this to say about their approach: “Demand for small molecule manufacturing constantly grows and evolves, and we are committed to investing in the capacity, capabilities and expertise to further strengthen our position as a market-leading CDMO delivering customized, productivity tracker customer-centric solutions.”