By Tim Freeman
The key to success in any market is finding the right balance between performance and cost. When dealing with commodity products, brand differentiation tends to be low, with cost arguments dominating and forcing lean, highly efficient manufacturing. In more specialized areas, including pharmaceuticals, profit is often derived from unique patented performance that commands a premium price, well above the cost of production. Historically, this position has shielded pharmaceutical manufacturers from many of the rigors faced by, for example, bulk chemical producers, where the legacy is relatively inefficient production. In the prevailing economic and regulatory climate this is rapidly becoming unsustainable and significant pharmaceutical industry resources are being pushed towards process understanding and establishing better manufacturing practices.