Functional excipients driving US market growth

pharmafile | June 2, 2011 | News story | Manufacturing and Production API, excipients, functional excipients 

Drugmakers are increasingly using more sophisticated excipients and blends in order to defend against generic competition, according to new market research.

Greater use of so-called functional excipients – which go beyond the traditional role of excipients as a carrier for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) – is one of the key drivers for the growth in the excipients market, according to the Freedonia Group study.

For example, functional excipients can help to solve formulation problems and contribute to simpler, more cost effective and robust drug product manufacture, and are increasingly a critical component of quality-by-design projects within the pharmaceutical industry.

“US demand for excipients will advance 3.9% annually to $1.87 billion in 2015, driven by continued growth in US pharmaceutical production and the increasing importance of functional excipients in drug formulation”, according to Freedonia.

However, growth in excipients will lag that of finished pharmaceutical products because a large proportion of the market remains commoditised with limited pricing flexibility.

“Fillers and diluents will remain the leading application served by excipients, and will offer the best growth opportunities”, says the new report.

“One of the most important developments in the excipient industry is the preparation of special excipient blends that provide manufacturers with ready-made combinations of fillers, binders, disintegrants, lubricants and other products, reducing manufacturing time and standardising materials to be combined with active ingredients”, it goes on.

A trend towards the use of excipients which can be used in direct compression production techniques – which eliminate several steps required for conventional wet and dry granulation processing – is boosting take-up of polymer excipients such as povidone.

In 2015, polymers will be the largest excipient category by value – capturing 43% of the total market – followed by alcohols such as propylene glycol with 20%.

Sugars will have a low market share by value at a little over 3%, but will remain an important, high-volume category based on the processing advantages of lactose as a tablet filler, diluent, and most recently as a drug delivery agent for inhalants.


Phil Taylor

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