What defines a great CMO partner for the commercial production of hormonal gels – we asked our long-term client Ferring

Commercial production of hormonal gels requires much more than just routinely running through standardized processes. In this article, our client Ferring, alongside Orion’s own experts, defines the key characteristics of a great contracting partner in commercial production.

Once a hormonal gel product is successfully transferred to a CMO’s production facilities, it’s time for commercial production. Even though the production processes are highly standardized at this point, running commercial production successfully takes more than just a technical routine. Behind the intricate production processes, the need for efficient and agile human interaction remains.

As a CMO, we wanted to know, what makes for a great contracting partner from the client’s perspective, so we asked one of our long-term clients, Ferring, to define the key attributes.

David Vulliez, Senior Manager in Ferring’s Global Manufacturing Network organization worked in close cooperation with Orion in a successful hormonal gel contract development and manufacturing project. Here’s what he had to say.


A human relationship – communication, honesty and transparency are key

Behind every on-time delivery of a product is a partnership built on human contact. As a customer, you want to have complete trust in the partner manufacturing your product.

“We felt like Orion wanted to help us in terms of process improvement, change management, regulatory issues, and overall requirements of the pharmaceutical industry,” says David Vulliez. “But first and foremost, it was a good relationship, and that is the most important thing for me.”

“Communication is key,” says Satu Ahvas, Quality Assurance Manager at Orion. “The customer needs to be kept aware of what is going on at all times. Providing full support means being open about challenges and discussing solutions together. We believe trust is built on openness.”

Vulliez emphasizes the importance of fluent communication as well. The cooperation of Orion and Ferring in the hormonal gel manufacturing project had a lot of shared information.

“The discussion was always open. If we had a special request, Orion came back with a proposition to find the best solution for both companies,” says David Vulliez. “The process Orion put in place for our product was very transparent.”


Adaptability – a great partner can maintain reliable, high-quality production through changes

Compared to the technology transfer phase, where the client’s production process is first transferred to a manufacturing partner’s facilities, commercial production is more routine. However, successfully manufacturing high-quality hormonal gels for global markets still requires the ability to react and adjust to changes in production planning.

As a customer, Vulliez appreciated Orion’s capability to be flexible:

“When we had to change their production planning at the last minute, Orion was able to change the production capacity and provide the product as requested almost every time.”

The contract manufacturing partner must be capable of adjusting production based on the customer’s wishes:

“Commercial manufacturing is all about managing the product’s life cycle”, says Henry Salonen, Head of Operations in the production of semi-solids and liquids at Orion.

“A lot of needs can arise: new markets, new packaging solutions, or materials”, lists Salonen. “Whatever the case may be, the CMO must plan their production capacity and reserves well in advance, but also be able to react accordingly so that all products are dispatched on time, cost-efficiently, and filling all quality requirements.”


Continuous improvement – a great partner keeps striving for better

Performing standardized tasks doesn’t mean one has to be content with the status quo. Extensive experience in international markets and the company’s own pharmaceutical production has given Orion valuable insight on how to add value for their CMO customers. Even a standardised process can be fine-tuned to be more efficient and robust through continuous improvement – a value instilled into Orion’s operating culture.

“Orion did not only listen but actively gave us propositions, feedback and recommendations to fine-tune the process,” says David Vulliez. “In addition to process development, they also provided some technology improvements and made recommendations in managing and tracking global regulations.”

No CMO project can avoid challenges and problems. Facing challenges openly and in close cooperation between both parties builds trust and leads to development.

“It’s important for us to be honest and openly discuss potential complications together with the customer. After all, we are in it together,” reminds Ahvas. “Problems can often be solved by consulting our in-house experts working on similar products.“

Treating the customer’s product as the CMO’s own means no quick fixes.

“Whenever there was a problem, Orion sought not only to explain the issue to us but to find the root cause,” says David Vulliez. “Our cooperation was very efficient and profitable.”