On a basic level, drugs consists of two parts: the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and the chemically inactive excipient, for instance lactose or sesame oil. The API in drugs can be synthetic, biotechnological or a combination of the two.
Biotech, and particularly the field of biopharmaceuticals, is growing fast and will constitute more than 50% of the pharmaceutical drug market by 2020. Biopharmaceuticals include a broad range of types requiring different production technologies. Most manufacturing methods utilise either microbial or mammalian expression systems, but other systems are utilized for specialized products such as vaccines. Additionally, the industry is facing new challenges, based on the introduction of new and increasingly complex pharmaceuticals such as antibody drug conjugates (ADC). These require facilities that are capable of handling both biologics and potentially very potent (toxic) small molecules at the same time.
Thus, facilities of the future need to be built in a flexible way to support a broad range of manufacturing technologies as well as volume requirements. These requirements range from extremely small volumes needed for personalized medicine, a few hundred kilos for orphan drugs, and tons of products for common diseases like diabetes, arthritis and certain types of cancer.