Content provider for

Gaurab Sengupta
Senior Global Business Director of Pharmaceutical & Nutraceutical - Lubrizol Life Science (LLS) Health
Pharma / Nutra

17 January 2023

How does LLS fit into the broader portfolio of Lubrizol, and what is the vision you are proposing going forward? 

Lubrizol has a very diverse portfolio of businesses. For instance - from Lubricant and Fuel additives for both Transportation and Industrial applications, to CPVC piping systems, to ingredients for Beauty and Home Care products, to Excipients for Pharmaceutical products and Polymers for Medical devices, to contract development and manufacturing services for Medical devices and Pharma products - we inevitably touch millions of human lives daily. You have likely encountered one of our products today without even knowing.

Healthcare is an integral part of our daily lives, even more so in the last few years than before, so it goes without saying that the Pharma / Nutra business is a key focus area for Lubrizol. As patient needs continue to evolve at breakneck speed, our quest to identify unmet needs and find innovative ways to address them is in line with our organization’s long tradition of innovation and is what fuels our ambition on a day-to-day basis. While identifying unmet needs and staying ahead of them has always been a priority, in recent years, we have truly made a step-change in our efforts on innovation and have tried to establish a stronger – and more rigorous – link between market needs and our R&D efforts. Which is why after many years we’ve recently introduced two new Excipients to our product portfolio – Apisolex™ (used for solubility / bioavailability enhancement of hydrophobic APIs in injectable products) and Apinovex™ (used for solubility / bioavailability enhancement of BCS Class II and IV APIs in oral solids).

What kind of mark did the pandemic leave on the life science industry as a whole?

The pandemic has changed the world, and our industry has been no exception. In general, in-person interactions have reduced significantly – and this impacts not just how we do business, but also how our end-customers i.e., patients tackle their healthcare needs. While physical distances have increased as an outcome of this, the need for personalization and customization has increased even more than before. 

For example, patient compliance was always a challenging issue. In the absence of physical interfaces, ensuring compliance is even more challenging and therefore this puts a bigger burden on drug developers to make sure that drugs are as “patient friendly” as possible, to reduce the risk of non-compliance. We play our part by – through the features of our Excipients - enabling our customers i.e. Pharma companies to develop such drugs. For example, extended-release tablets that are 20% smaller in size, or spill-proof oral liquids that are easier to administer for pediatric and geriatric patients. 

When it comes to OTC / Nutraceutical products, we have tailored our communications to evolve with evolving consumer preferences. For example, an increasingly informed consumer today looks for solutions and therapeutic benefits, and not just individual deficiencies – such as Vitamin C - in isolation. We’ve started talking to our customers – Nutra companies – how “bundled” offerings of products will enable them to succeed with patients.

Finally, another important implication of the pandemic has been the mark left on global supply chains. Shortages and logistical challenges caused by non-diversified supply chains have made the industry even more conscious than before of the importance of Business Continuity Plans and Security of Supply. We for our part have started having these conversations with our customers and have taken steps to ensure that we understand and alleviate these concerns. We manufacture our products in separate locations in Europe and in the U.S. and continue to work to strengthen our value proposition from a BCP perspective to our customers. 

Innovation is the lifeblood of the life sciences market. How is LLS Health - Pharma / Nutra approaching this concept? 

For us, innovation is a day-to-day mindset and doesn’t always have to be something as step changing as launching a new polymer. As I mentioned before, we have of course been innovating in the lab, but we have also been innovative in terms of our commercial approach – for example, approaching Marketing & Portfolio professionals at Pharma companies to talk about patient benefits enabled by our polymers (as opposed to the more traditional route of approaching formulation scientists) and by speaking to our Nutra customers about bundled offerings. In addition, we continue to help Pharma innovators solve their most complex formulation development challenges – and thereby speed up the drug development process - through our CDMO business. In a nutshell, in addition to being innovation-driven ourselves, what makes us truly proud is the extent to which we enable our customers to innovate. 

To what extent do you make use of modern technologies (AI, VR etc.) in your processes?

The Pharma / Nutra ingredients / services industries in my opinion have been much slower than many others to latch on to modern technologies. Nonetheless, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst. For example, novel ways to engage with customers – such as more personalized and user-friendly websites, the ability to make virtual site visits, etc. – are all ideas that we have focussed more on recently given the changed world we live in today. What has traditionally been very much an in-person sales driven industry, today increasingly relies on digital tools and integrated marketing strategies – and the challenge lies in balancing this with the need for more customer intimacy and personalization. 

The excipients market is expected to continue growing at a steady pace in the coming decade; how do you perceive this evolution from a business standpoint?

In my mind, the industry has seen several phases of evolution, and the current / next phase is one in which Excipients and what they can enable will play a critical role. The era of small molecule NCEs (New Chemical Entities) has waned, as has the “patent cliff” that followed. As far as traditional dosage forms are concerned, today’s era is about differentiated, patient-centric drug products – and choice of excipient plays a key role in determining how patient-centric a drug product can be, for the same API.

 

On the other hand, future drug development pipelines are likely to be filled by new, high value technologies like Vaccines / Biologics / Injectables.

 

As I explained earlier, from the perspective of our business, we are taking steps to ensure we can make the most of both trends. 

What objectives would LLS Health - Pharma / Nutra like to achieve in the following two to three years?

What motivates us every day is the impact we can have on human lives through our day-to-day actions. It also gives us a strong sense of duty and responsibility. In keeping with the Lubrizol tradition of innovation and impacting lives, in the Pharma / Nutra business, we have identified a few key priorities for the next two to three years. 

One, we will prioritize innovation and ensure that we do a thorough job of identifying and solving unmet needs in our space. We’ve taken some steps already and staying focussed will be key. 

Second, we will continue to keep our customers – both Pharma / Nutra companies and the patients, who are the end customers – front and center as we devise strategies and develop execution plans. We will do this by making customer intimacy a priority, irrespective of how challenging that may be in a post-pandemic world. 

Finally, as the world and our industry evolve, we need to do so as well. Successful strategies of the past will not work in the future. For us in the Pharma / Nutra business, making quick decisions, failing fast, and maintaining a sense of urgency in everything we do is and will continue to be a key priority in the years to come.

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