By Indu Bhushan

Over the last few years, the Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has received a remarkable boost. Owing to factors such as competitive manufacturing costs, advancement in the field of technology, a highly skilled and easily accessible workforce, investment in R&D, and strong support from the government in the form of numerous initiatives and infrastructural development, the nation has successfully positioned itself as one of the prime hubs for pharmaceutical production.

The world saw this sector’s immense potential primarily during the peak of the COVID pandemic when it not only managed the supply and demand for highly effective, premium-quality vaccines and drugs for its own country but was also able to seamlessly export them to the rest of the world.

According to a report, the Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing market size was estimated at USD 17.79 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.5 per cent from 2024 to 2030. These numbers indicate the tremendous growth we can expect from this sector in the coming years.

But what factors drive innovation in this sector, and which technologies have initiated a wave of change, leading pharmaceutical manufacturing towards a better, brighter, and technology-driven future?

Let us delve into some of these aspects to understand the emerging trends in the manufacturing landscape.

Factors Driving Innovation in this Sector

While innovation has become the driving force of every other industry, it particularly has an indispensable role to play in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Here are a few factors responsible for igniting the hunger for innovation in this sector:

  • R&D Trends – Numerous trends, like investment in pharmacogenomics for personalised medicine delivery, adoption of green chemistry and sustainable manufacturing, and collaboration between globally renowned biotech firms, private research institutes, and government universities, are reshaping pharmaceutical R&D in India. In addition, the government’s supportive policies and funding for research and development of new drugs are encouraging the sector to fully unleash its potential and stand strongly in the vastly competitive global market.

  • Changing Patient Demographics and Needs – Another key factor is the surge in the number of patients encountering chronic diseases. Consequently, there is a sense of urgency in terms of addressing the specific needs of these patients and their complex diseases. Proper attention is being given to the affected individuals by adopting patient-centric approaches for product design and delivery. Manufacturers are keen on producing innovative, user-friendly drug delivery systems to make survival on drugs easier for those battling long-term health scares.

Economic slowdowns and geopolitical tensions also have a significant role in pushing manufacturers to innovate products that are high in efficiency and low in cost. When manufacturers experience tight budgets and low customer spending due to global economic slowdowns, they must streamline processes and generate products from raw materials sourced locally to reduce overall costs and dependence on imports. Similarly, geopolitical issues necessitate internal mass production of drugs and diversification of exports to meet the supply chain demand.An innovation-driven environment in pharmaceutical manufacturing is also caused by anticipation of potential future regulatory policy changes. For instance, government-necessitated policies around adopting new and cost-effective technologies, collaborative research and development, and developing drugs targeting unaddressed medical needs can spark a wave of innovation in the sector.The whole world is going green, and pharmaceutical manufacturing is no exception. The adverse effects of growing industrialisation are pushing innovation in the sector to help companies successfully adopt sustainable sourcing practices and eco-friendly production techniques, reduce energy consumption, and manage waste production.

Emerging Technologies and Innovations Redefining Pharma Manufacturing

While the industry has started welcoming several new revolutionary technologies in its everyday manufacturing processes, here are a few that at present are significantly contributing to bringing down the production cost, boosting quality and quantity, amplifying self-reliance, and shifting the focus to on-demand production.

  • 3D Printing – One technology that is responsible for causing a paradigm shift in the pharmaceutical industry is 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, freeform technology, or rapid prototyping. While this technology has revolutionised a bunch of sectors, its positive impact can be majorly witnessed in the pharma industry, where it aims to offer personalised and customised dosages.

The main reason for integrating this technology in the pharmaceutical industry is to move the sector’s focus from conventional batch manufacturing to on-demand small-effort production. This further assists in reducing the possibility of adverse reactions and toxicity and even leads to better waste management.

  • Digital Transformation and its Contribution

In today’s data-driven markets, digital transformation enables manufacturers to make informed and calculative decisions based on the insights drawn from the collection of raw data. Plus, real-time monitoring systems, another advantage of digitisation, when combined with predictive analysis, make it easier to spot errors in the production process and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. Besides, IoT and cloud devices have simplified the monitoring process, as professionals can now control the entire process while enjoying the flexibility of operating from a remote location.

  • Industrial Revolution 4.0

Industry 4.0 undoubtedly relies heavily on automation technologies to eliminate human errors, manage repetitive tasks, and promote consistent product quality. Along with these, integrating digital twin technology, on which the industry is thriving, allows manufacturers to create virtual replicas of actual physical processes, identify issues beforehand, and initiate changes in real-time, further reducing overall cost.Another innovation that has been positively transforming the manufacturing process is continuous manufacturing. While for decades, manufacturers have used batch manufacturing to generate drugs in the form of small batches or specific quantities, we can now see them switching to continuous or uninterrupted manufacturing. In this production method, raw materials are processed continuously, reducing the need to halt the process multiple times. A few noteworthy benefits of this method include improved efficiency, enhanced product quality due to continuous automated monitoring, and compact equipment size.The pharmaceutical manufacturing sector is undergoing a huge transformation, influenced by new-age technologies and innovations. Factors like R&D trends, evolving patient needs, regulatory policies, sustainable practices, and economic and geopolitical disruptions continue to drive improvements and push manufacturers to adopt advanced technologies. Although there is still a long way to go, many companies have already started incorporating technologies like 3D printing, continuous manufacturing, digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence to help this sector witness a new dawn.

Hence, given the constantly evolving needs of the market, its consumers, and the environment, it is of utmost importance for industry leaders and stakeholders to embrace new technologies to experience holistic growth.

The article is written by Indu Bhushan, CEO & Director, STEERLife

(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly)

  • Published On Jun 16, 2024 at 03:35 PM IST

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