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Shortage of candidates for biosimilar drug roles, according to NonStop Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly moving towards the production of biosimilar drugs, which is leading to recruitment issues, according to NonStop Pharma, a specialist division of NonStop Recruitment.

Jonathan McNab, NonStop associate director, said, “The field of biosimilar drugs – which are drugs similar to biological rather than chemical drugs – is a complex field, but a very fast growing market, which leads to a shortage of experienced candidates.

“It has largely derived from drug makers struggling to find new treatments through chemical synthesis, and actually looking at living organisms for these new treatments. Developing and manufacturing Biologic drugs is a lot more complicated, hence the need for very specialised staff.”

While there is no particular catalyst for this new talent shortage, there are two factors at play – patents on biologic drugs expiring, meaning more companies can copy these drugs and create ‘biosimilars’, as well as improvements in technology and research methods.

Chemical drugs are the most common on the market, they are man-made by combining specific chemical ingredients in an ordered process. Biological drugs are manufactured in a living system such as a microorganism, plant or animal cells and are therefore much more complex to research, manufacture and deliver than chemical drugs.

Every drug is secured with a patent that usually expires after 20 years, which means other pharma companies can start copying and developing their own versions. However, it is very difficult to copy a Biologic drug – this is where the term biosimilars comes from - they are only similar not the same. For organisations to secure a close development and copy of the initial biologic drug they must recruit the right skillsets.

While McNab predicts a difficult time for Biosimilar companies in terms of finding staff, he says it’s an excellent time for anyone already working in biopharma to expand their knowledge base and advance their career. 

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