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Flexibility in Drug Product Development: A Perspective

By Kapoor, Yash; Ferguson, Heidi; Skomski, Daniel; Daublain, Pierre; Troup, Gregory; Dalton, Chad; Ramasamy, Manoharan; Templeton, Allen

Published on CMKC


The process of bringing a drug to market involves innumerable decisions to refine a concept into a final product. The final product goes through extensive research and development to meet the target product profile and to obtain a product that is manufacturable at scale. Historically, this process often feels inflexible and linear, as ideas and development paths are eliminated early on to allow focus on the workstream with the highest probability of success. Carrying multiple options early in development is both time-consuming and resource-intensive. Similarly, changing development pathways after significant investment carries a high “penalty of change” (PoC), which makes pivoting to a new concept late in development inhibitory. Can drug product (DP) development be made more flexible? The authors believe that combining a nonlinear DP development approach, leveraging state-of-the art data sciences, and using emerging process and measurement technologies will offer enhanced flexibility and should become the new normal. Through the use of iterative DP evaluation, “smart” clinical studies, artificial intelligence, novel characterization techniques, automation, and data collection/modeling/interpretation, it should be possible to significantly reduce the PoC during development. In this Perspective, a review of ideas/techniques along with supporting technologies that can be applied at each stage of DP development is shared. It is further discussed how these contribute to an improved and flexible DP development through the acceleration of the iterative build-measure-learn cycle in laboratories and clinical trials.


Molecular Pharmaceutics. Volume 18, 2021, 2455-2469



Type of publication

Peer-reviewed journal


  • Merck & Co., Inc.

Article Classification


Classification Areas

  • PAT
  • Modeling