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Oral Dose Competition Intensifies as Qualicaps Expands Manufacturing

By Dan Stanton , 26-Feb-2013
Last updated on 26-Feb-2013 at 10:50 GMT

Following a bout of investments, the oral dose solution market has been described as “competitive” and “dynamic” by two of the major players.

A number of different companies have been making moves in the oral dose solution market. Most recently, HPMC (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose) capsule maker Qualicaps announced it will invest $26m (€19.6m) in its manufacturing facility in Whitsett, North Carolina, creating 123 jobs over the next three years.

The news comes less than two months after Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings (MCHC) announced its plans to purchase Qualicaps and enter the sector.   

At present “it is a very dynamic marketplace,” Amit Patel, senior VP and President of the newly created Dosage Form Solutions business unit at Capsugel told in-Pharmatechnologist.com, citing recent acquisitions as well as “evolving customer preferences, changing regulatory landscapes, technology advances and new emerging business models.” 

Last week, Capsugel launched a new Oral Formulation Business Unit  as ongoing issues in this drug delivery area drive improvements and innovations.

Competitive Spirit

We asked Patel how Capsugel has been affected by the recent takeovers of two of its main competitors - Qualicaps in January and last October’s $255m purchase of Banner Pharmacaps by Canadian CMO Patheon.

“While Capsugel monitors these competitive developments, our primary focus is to be on the leading edge of innovation and quality,” he said.

Capsugel was sold by Pfizer in 2011 for $2.4bn and has never looked back as it focuses on the continued growth of its hard capsule business,  according to Patel.

Patheon’s CEO James Mullen previously expressed his company's intent to “be the leader in oral dosage development and manufacturing services,” as it intensified the competition with existing players in the softgel field with the Banner acquisition.

Dr. Anil Kane, executive director of Global PDS Formulation Sciences told this publication that though the sector is “competitive,” he does “not foresee any impact of the recent deals on Patheon business.”

Challenges in Oral Dose Solutions

Patheon is determined to address the main challenges in the dosage form industry which Kane said were an increase in poorly soluble compounds (the ‘bioavailability issue’), a rise in the number of line extensions in the form of complex dosage forms and an increase in high potency compounds.

Kane’s concerns were mirrored by Patel, who explained that the market at present is battling to offer clients both improvements to oral dose delivery and faster solutions. 

“Improvement can mean a number of things – enhanced bioavailability and absorption, optimized active ingredient dosing for highly potent compounds, improved stability and even taste and odor masking," Patel said, adding: “Companies are interested in accelerating the time from lab-to-clinic and time from clinic-to-commercial.”

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