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Survey Says Flex Mfg. to Help with Fluctuating Forecasts

March 16, 2016

Product launch challenges finds forecasts can be off by more than 50%

A recent survey,“Pharmaceutical Product Forecasting and Its Impact on Manufacturing,” conducted by ORC International and sponsored by Patheon, found a majority of companies had either overestimated or underestimated demand for new drugs by as much as 25%, with some reporting instances off by more than 50%. The white paper includes insights from 50 pharma industry senior managers and includes commentary from Jim Miller, founder and president of PharmSource.
 
Failing to meet forecasted demand with lack of inventory can result in loss of sales, product risk and overworked employees. According to the survey, it’s estimated that a delay in launch costs an average of $15 million per drug, per day, and research shows that a drug will lose $1 billion in revenue annually until capacity is developed to meet demand. Generally, underestimating resulted from not having enough background data to support forecasting information.
 
“Making accurate demand forecasts is extremely challenging for pharmaceutical companies, particularly forecasts for new product launches,” said Michael Lehmann, executive vice president sales and marketing for Patheon. “As a driver of innovation and a transformative force in the industry, Patheon is focused on helping clients find innovative solutions to their challenges.”
 
On the other hand, according to the survey, if demand is overestimated, it leads to misappropriated capital, forcing manufacturers to mark down the price of the product, destroy inventory and/or close plants and lay off employees. Further, this can result in losing the roughly $500 million it cost to acquire their pharmaceutical plant. Respondents said that they often overestimated demand when there is greater market volatility or when they were overly optimistic in their forecasting.
 
Inaccuracies in demand forecasting, along with increases in complex manufacturing processes, are driving the need for more manufacturing solutions. Pharma companies often outsource drug production to take advantage of more flexible manufacturing offerings, and to mitigate risks and prevent damages resulting from inaccurate demand forecasts.
 
“It is clear that regardless of company size, product type, or market, the challenge of demand forecasting is a significant one,” said Dana Benini, vice president, ORC International. “Since forecasts by their very definition involve a degree of uncertainty, pharma companies should be talking about how flexible, scalable capacity can accommodate the variability factor, and minimize the impact of inaccurate estimates for a product that does not yet exist.”
 
A flexible manufacturing service model offers adaptable and scalable capacity, allowing clients to increase and decrease capacity as needed. To help deal with uncertain forecasts, contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) would need to offer the facilities, equipment and process technology expertise needed for operations and risk management.
 
Patheon commissioned the study to in an effort to better understand the challenges pharma companies encounter when implementing demand forecasts for commercial launches. The findings were based on interviews examining current forecasting processes, key issues that arise from inaccurate forecasting, and how forecasting needs will change in the future.

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