Top of the Pops
If you were to liken the interest in single-use and dispos- able technologies in the pharmaceutical industry to terms we are familiar with when talking about hot web topics, you might say they have been “trending” for several years, or perhaps they have gone “viral” – but that might
have some negative connotations in the industry, after all the
industry is trying to eliminate viruses not promote them.
Or, if you want to harken back to an older (though still in
use) metric for gauging what’s popular, you might say that
single use and disposable technologies have been in the Top
40 for a long time – or maybe even the Top 10. But I digress.
Single-use and disposable technologies have been in use
in the biopharm industry for quite some time now. And while
their acceptance as a viable substitute for more traditional
processing equipment continues to grow – there is still some
hesitance in the industry to adopt single-use entirely for
many processes. Innovator biopharm companies are picking
places in their processing facilities where they feel single-use
technologies can be most beneficial. For biopharm CMOs the
choice to go to single-use has been a much easier one – with
consideration of lower cost, less cleaning and the elimination
of cross-contamination worries among the most important
reasons to adopt single-use technologies.
In order to get a better idea of what is going on inside the
word of single-use technologies and what the latest thinking
and trends are, we talked to several single-use/disposable
equipment vendors to get their insights.
WHAT’S TRENDING NOW
To get a sense of where the current single-use market
place is at – we asked our vendors what they have seen regarding recent trends and developments for this technology.
According to Dominic M. Clarke, Ph.D., Global Product
Manager, Cell Therapy & Bioprocessing, Charter Medical,
Ltd., technology bundling is a recent development, “We are
seeing the bundling between single-use disposable bag technologies and sensor technologies to provide solutions to the
The use of single-use technologies in downstream pro-
cessing is also gaining in prominence as Steven Cates, V.P.
Engineering, ALPHABIO, Inc. explains, “We are noticing a
greater adoption of single-use for downstream technologies
(e.g. harvest steps, clarification, purification, etc.) due to
significant improvements in process control techniques (e.g.
SU automated encapsulated process valving, SU process
instrumentation, etc.), which also leads to a reduction in
cost/batch for the SU components.”
The push to bigger sizes for single-use equipment is being
noticed by Ken Davis, Global Product Line Manager, Value
Plastics, “We are seeing customers migrate towards large
sizes confirming the trend towards larger scaled up produc-
Cates concurs with Davis’ observation noting, ” We are
definitely seeing an upswing in the request for larger scale
SU process systems.”
And while Clarke at Charter Medical doesn’t see an
upswing in the use of single-use technologies for larger
batches he mentions there is a practical limit to their size. “I
Left: The Freeze-Pak™ STS disposable frozen storage solution. Photo
courtesy: Charter Medical
Above: Single-use clamps connect tubing to filters. Photo courtesy: