COVID-19 and growth in advanced therapies is driving increased demand for cold storage, according to Catalent Pharma Solutions, who recently added cryogenic storage capabilities to its 200,000 square-foot Philadelphia facility.
“We’ve seen more requests for cold storage across the board, and we’ve seen market data showing more requests coming in the future,” says Matt Blume, vice president, business transformation at Catalent.
He attributes the growth in demand to biologics, and cell and gene therapies that need specific storage conditions. “If there’s a cell therapy then there’s a need for liquid nitrogen, but if it’s a gene therapy, there’s more need for storage at -80 degrees,” he says.
Storing COVID-19 vaccines has also put more pressure on existing facilities, he adds, especially units that can store drugs at -80 degrees Fahrenheit. “If you look at COVID-19 products, they need to be stored at different temperatures, so there’s an increase in demand for units and constraints on supply.”
In addition, there’s a growing demand for facilities that can store products in liquid nitrogen. As he explains, Catalent used to have liquid nitrogen storage in legacy facilities. They are now reactivating them from dormancy to cope with the increased demand.
The company says they have the expertise to deal with the upsurge in interest in storage and are now looking to other locations where they can install cryogenic facilities. “I think Philadelphia was our step one,” says Blume. “As we look at our strategic horizons, we’re seeing whether we need to open more capacity in the future to support clinical trials outside the United States.”
Europe is a target for future expansion of Catalent’s cryogenic facilities, he explains. “There may be a need for U.K. and European storage. [The situation] is getting better [around Brexit], but it presents some unique challenges.”