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Fishing for Ideas at Informex USA 2012
By: Rachel L. Grabenhofer
Posted: March 1, 2012
page 3 of 6
Not surprisingly, like personal care, the specialty chemicals industry deals with issues of public perception, regulations and product safety. Specifically, as Adrian Hanrahan, managing director of Robinson Brothers Ltd., wrote in the February 17 Informex show daily, “the European Chemicals Agency continues changing guidelines to push chemical manufacturers to using totally enclosed systems, yet continuous processes are not always viable and batch processing is preferable.” He added, “The people setting the rules do not understand the industry.” Certainly the personal care industry has heard this cry before.
In relation, one attendee during a Q&A session noted that the constraints of REACh must be made applicable and workable in the “real” world. In relation, several presentations noted concerns for a more streamlined approach to regulatory oversight. Imagine if the personal care industry were regulated so stringently. Other concerns in specialty chemicals ranged from supply chain issues of global vs. regional sourcing; weaknesses such as marketplace exploitation, intentional adulteration and substandard manufacturing—buzzwords presented by the nonprofit industry watchdog group Rx-360; and supply shortages, which open the window for counterfeiters to exploit. This is one reason that supplier auditing is important and strong communication is crucial.
All in all, as Andy Harris, CEO of Syrgis wrote in the February 15 Informex show daily, “Innovation needs to be at the heart of what we do.” He added that peer-reviewed science and rational assessments must be a key part of the process, especially when there is a push to create solutions and accelerate them through clinical development. Practical approaches to innovation may include improved understanding of disease etiology, or developing value-added products and more aggressively launching cost-effective treatments. Like the personal care industry, however, financial constraints on innovation can be a roadblock—which is both a concern and a strategy. While there are many ideas and programs within academia, there is a lack of investment, which has given rise to consolidations and add-on acquisitions, resulting in fewer players having larger portfolios and worldwide reach.