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Canadian biomanufacturing strategy launched to take advantage of $15 billion biopharmaceutical pipeline


Ottawa, ON – A $450-million investment is required over the next seven years if Canada is to retain its leading position in the rapidly growing biopharmaceutical industry and capitalize on the $15 billion the country has already invested in the development of new, biologically based drugs, the Centre for Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing said today.

In releasing the Canadian Bioprocessing Initiative, a national strategy developed over the past two years by more than 70 government, academic and private-sector stakeholders, the centre said Canada can cement its position at the forefront of a biotechnology revolution that is changing the way new drugs are made.

“In the future, drugs will be grown, not made, and that shift is underway from traditional chemically synthesized pharmaceuticals towards biologic compounds that require biomanufacturing facilities to produce,” said Ken Lawless, president and CEO of the Ottawa Life Sciences Council and Chair of the CBI Founders Committee. “We need to sharply strengthen our commercialization infrastructure if we are to capture, in Canada, the benefits of the $15 billion in public research and development, venture capital and capital market investments in our biopharmaceutical pipeline.”

Canada already has one of the most robust biopharmaceutical pipelines in the world, and 80% of it will require small-scale capacity by 2010 to produce materials for clinical trials. Canada’s existing small-scale capacity can accommodate only about one third of the projected demand.

In addition, both small and large firms in Canada are facing a critical shortage of highly qualified personnel with experience in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Bioprocessing technologies continue to advance at a rapid pace, and Canada needs to increase its investment to keep its biomanufacturing industry globally competitive, the centre said.

The strategy identified bottlenecks in Canada’s commercialization infrastructure and recommended an investment of $450 million over seven years to build capacity in biomanufacturing, research and training in major clusters across the country. The recommendations require support from all levels of government and private industry, and participation from the academic community.

The investment is projected to yield $1 billion of direct economic impact by 2010 and $2 billion each year thereafter, and reverse a trend that has seen Canada develop a persistent and growing trade deficit in pharmaceuticals.

Canada is the 10th largest pharmaceutical market, worth $14.6 billion in 2003. However, sharply rising imports driven by expanding domestic demand for drugs have combined with few global supply mandates and slower export growth to produce a Canadian trade deficit in pharmaceuticals of $5.5 billion in 2002, growing to $11 billion by 2010.

“If we do nothing, the status quo sees Canada continue to export its publicly subsidized intellectual property whose real benefits will then be realized elsewhere,” Lawless said. “Time is of the essence since some of our critical challenges will require many years of sustained effort to correct.”

Recognizing the importance of supporting strong clusters across the country, the implementation of this strategy will result in significant economic advantages to all regions of Canada and will provide for a healthier and safer health care system.

A summary of the strategy recommendations, backgrounder and stakeholder quotes sheet are available at www.olsc.ca .