Facility Design/Engineering

Sustainability in Bioprocessing

    The concept of sustainability has evolved over the past few decades to describe conditions for harmonious coexistence of industry and nature while meeting socioeconomic requirements of present and future generations. For this environmentally focused report, I like the simple definition offered by Armstrong International, a provider of steam, air, and hot water systems that improve utility performance, lower energy consumption, and reduce environmental emissions. According to a brochure that in part describes its work with Pfizer, Armstrong defines…

Therapies of Tomorrow Require More Than Factories from the Past

Live cells are being incorporated as active agents and delivery vehicles for a broad range of emerging therapeutic strategies. Successful commercialization of a cell therapy requires more than proving its safety and efficacy to regulators. Ultimately a therapy must be commercially viable, allowing enough patients to be treated with an adequate financial margin to justify investment in it as a product. “Whether the cells used are universal (allogeneic) or patient-specific (autologous), it is unlikely to be wholly one or the…

The Human Factor in Facility Design Innovation

Bioprocess and pharmaceutical production environments must be well designed to meet strict cleanroom and quality assurance (QA) standards and productivity requirements. Managers may also consider innovative ways to enhance the design of these environments to enable the people critical to their companies’ success to be more productive and effective. In today’s work culture, countless hours can be lost to poor teamwork and ineffective communication. CGMP environments present additional, unique challenges to human interaction because of their built-in process and protocol…

The Dinosaurs Reborn: Evaluating Stainless Steel and Disposables in Large-Scale Biomanufacturing

    Although a number of biomanufacturers have adopted disposable technologies for small-scale process design, there has been considerable debate over the role of single-use systems in large-scale biopharmaceutical manufacturing— particularly in retrofitting facilities. Some experts have gone so far as to suggest that large-scale stainless steel fermentors are “dinosaurs,” with their large capacities, long installation lead times, and low flexibility. I advocate a systematic approach to look holistically at possible retrofit technologies in existing (stainless steel) facilities, with particular…

Single-Use Systems As Principal Components in Bioproduction

    Single-use systems (SUS) have become an accepted component of animal-cell–based bioproduction. No longer a merely exciting possibility, they have emerged as a significant and growing resource for companies to use from process development to manufacturing of approved products. Having been examined for years in less regulated environments, off-the-shelf SUS are now in regular use to some extent in nearly every segment of the production train by contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) and biopharmaceutical companies in mid-scale production applications. For…

Minimizing the Environmental Footprint of Bioprocesses

    Part 1 of this two-part article introduced the need to reduce the environmental footprint of bioprocesses and evaluated the impact of solid-waste disposal. Part 2 continues by describing the effects of the remaining elements of the bioprocess footprint: wastewater, electricity, and air emissions.   Wastewater   Process Waste Streams: Generally, raw materials to produce and purify biopharmaceuticals fall into one of the following categories: inorganic/organic salts, sugars/polyols, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, surface active agents, or complex (undefined)…

Containment of High-Potency Products in a GMP Environment

Many modern medicines are highly potent, with only tiny doses required to achieve a therapeutic effect. But a nanomolar medicine poses extra hazards during manufacturing, whether the product is a biologic or a small molecule. These issues have to be evaluated and addressed in the design of a manufacturing facility for such products. Not only is it vital that the product not become contaminated, but employees and the general public must be protected from the product. Exposure to just a…

Challenges in Developing an Infrastructure Strategy

    The idea of “thinking globally, but manufacturing locally” to each market is relatively new to the biopharmaceutical industry. As I mentioned in Chapter 2, vaccine makers are more familiar with the concept already. But many technological and economic factors are making other companies aware of this option. Offshoring clinical trials has been of great interest in the pharmaceutical industry for years now. Is it more cost-effective to make clinical materials “here” and ship them “there”— or to make…

Manufacture Locally, Market Globally?

    One response to a survey we sent out last year kept coming back to me as we prepared this issue. In answer to what a company does if a product in development doesn’t fit into the company’s platform technology, one answer was, “We innovate a solution.” Whether meant seriously or not, it rings true to the history of the industry’s ability to invent and reinvent solutions as necessitated by economic realities. When we began working on the topic…

How Geography Affects the Cost of Biomanufacturing

    As the biopharmaceutical industry undergoes restructuring, its focus shifts to the efficiency of drug development and overall costs of delivering affordable medicines. A question often raised concerns the manufacture of drug substances overseas to tap into a cheaper manufacturing base (1). There are many issues to consider when looking at overseas locations, such as intellectual property (IP), the availability of skilled labor, and the emergence of new markets. The situation is more complex with biopharmaceuticals because the products…