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Nicola Ambler Mar 15
Curing cost of goods with automation in cell and gene therapies

Curing COGs with Automation

Is automation the cure for the cost of goods pandemic?

Barely a day goes by where the impact of the cost of goods (COGs) on cell therapy commercialisation isn’t discussed. We all know that COGs kill cell therapies, for instance, the average COGs across biotech is 10%, for Provenge it was 77%!


The challenge is certainly looming but the opportunity is equally as plenty. The narrative that’s needed now is one of solutions, goals and the collaboration to achieve them.


Our industry is naturally innovative and collaborative, which is why we have seen so many successes recently from new market authorisations to new technologies, processes and science being developed. So, what’s the current state of the COGs story, how do we reduce the cost of mass production and deliver therapies to patients at the lowest possible cost?


The answer to this desired future state lies in disruptive approaches to production and supply chain. Through automation technology, innovative approaches to better manage production and even eliminate most of the supply chain as we know it is possible. Moving towards self-contained and fully-integrated GMP models that can be implemented at the point of care is the disruption our industry needs for patients to realise the full power and potential of cell therapy.

At the Phacilitate Leaders Forum 2017, Richard Grant, formerly of Invetech, set out his view of this future state and how we can get there...with a little help from McDonald's! Richard was involved in a project to improve the last mile of soda delivery, which resulted in a self-contained, automated unit that is smart, more efficient and has a significantly smaller footprint – he believes we can translate these gains directly over to cell therapy production!


Richard believes the industry should be aspiring to $1000 dollar therapies but before you throw your arms up in protest, just think what has happened to the cost of genome sequencing in recent years. Moore’s Law accurately describes how the cost has drastically reduced from $100,000 to $1000 and eventually to as little as $100! Why should cell therapy costs not follow the same pattern?


This effect was achieved through incremental improvements and collaboration, which sounds very familiar! In this presentation, Richard sets out his view on how we can reach this future state; through configurable GMP modules that will eventually be fully integrated machines, managing whole processes. He also describes in detail where the big opportunities lie in:

  • Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • QA/QC
  • Logistics


The presentation is 17 minutes long but it is full to the brim with exactly what the industry needs. SOLUTIONS.