This includes marketing staff. In CordenPharma’s case, a team of 20 people coordinates contracts for a network of plants in the US and Europe acquired over 15 years. In that time, Quirmbach says, the company experienced just one unsuccessful venture: the purchase of an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) site in Cork, Ireland, from Cambrex, another contract manufacturer, in 2006.
Quirmbach says CordenPharma has learned a lot through experience. “Initially, ICIG just acquired these assets thinking all these plants can operate by themselves,” he says. “Then they realized they need a different strategy, a marketing strategy and platform for how they are going to market these services.”
The company also learned that the conversion of big pharma sites to service ventures requires real investment. The Plankstadt, Germany, site that CordenPharma purchased from AstraZeneca, for example, manufactured the cholesterol drug Crestor in finished-dose form. “But it had no development assets,” Quirmbach says. To attract new business, the firm built development labs and small-scale manufacturing capacity for finished drugs. It also built three smaller plants to accommodate the production of drugs for Phase I and II clinical trials.