DSM Pharmaceutical Products is a leading provider of custom contract manufacturing and development services to the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. According to president and CEO Alexander Wessels, its success derives from a mix of high customer service and sustainable state-of-the-art technology.

The theme of sustainability has shifted from that of good citizenship to a genuine business driver for companies. As a result, greener solutions now make up a considerable part of the genetic make-up of leading manufacturers within the pharmaceutical industry.

As part of the Royal DSM NV group, which in September retained its position as the chemical industry’s premier company in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the third year running, DSM Pharmaceutical Products is one company benefitting from an onus on sustainability.

In every technologically advanced company, success usually rides on how it manages to balance innovation with customer relations, and DSM is no exception.

"In terms of material and life sciences, lowering our footprint is now part of our business model," says Alexander Wessels, group president and CEO. "DSM is on track with its 2011-2015 sustainability aspirations. In the first half of 2011, 87% of DSM’s innovation pipeline were ECO+ solutions (compared with an aspiration of over 80% for 2011-15). For DSM, ECO+ benefits can be created at any stage of the product lifecycle, from raw materials through manufacturing and use to potential re-use and end-of-life disposal. Lifecycle assessments are therefore an important way to validate the ECO+ scores of our products.

"In the past, there were companies who thought of it purely as a means of good advertising; however, the world is truly shifting towards developing sustainable solutions; it constitutes the corporate mission for companies within the pharma space."

In-house capability

Divided into five separate divisions: DSM Pharma Chemicals, DSM Exclusive Synthesis, DSM Biologics, DSM Pharmaceuticals and DSM BioSolutions, Wessels also attributes the group’s progress to its Quality For Life. ethos, which aside from sustainability, also highlights quality, reliability and traceability of its products.

"When you look at DSM brand values across all our businesses, quality is the one thing that always stands out," says Wessels. "These values especially apply to the pharmaceutical space. Recently, we have focussed on traceability and sustainability."

In order to develop in-house technologies and supply and outsource them across the entire pharmaceutical value chain, DSM makes use of its extensive in-house R&D capabilities, setting aside a percentage of its revenue each year for technological investments. According to Wessels, the group is in the process of analysing its sales over the last three years so it can see how products can be consolidated and further developed.

"The yardstick we are using is very strict," he says. "We have some unique technologies in each of our designated fields that have really made a dent in the industry; for example, if you take our biologics division, our XDR technologies allow for a much smaller footprint while achieving the same output.

"With regards to green chemistry and micro reactors, we are developing more projects that are of interest to customers in need of proprietary technologies."

In every technologically advanced company, success usually rides on how it manages to balance innovation with customer relations, and DSM is no exception. Wessels is adamant that the two are inextricably linked.

"I would say that technology and quality are the key factors for us in developing customer relations," he says. "If you take the outsourcing part of our business, we can offer peace of mind to our customers as we have a proven reulatory track record, which is imperative in this industry."

Consolidated future

In a stringently regulated industry, DSM finds itself in an enviable position; its facilities have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and similar agencies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Japan.

Bearing in mind these legal parameters, which are set to evolve further, in line with advancements in the pharmaceutical industry, how is DSM looking to expand in the future?

"In terms of organic growth in a regulated market, it will come from further supply chain integration," says Wessels. "A lot of things that we have seen in other industries are now surfacing in the pharmaceutical sector, which I think we are well positioned to deal with.

"In fact, if you look at the entire commercial manufacturing space, it is inevitable that we will see further consolidation. We are prepared for this."