CPHI 2023 highlights: informing the future for more patient-centric, sustainable pharma solutions

By:  Pharma Solutions Editors



  • Last month, the global pharmaceutical industry united at CPHI 2023 in Barcelona, Spain, to reflect on the latest developments and innovations over the last year and learn from trailblazers in this space.
  • dsm-firmenich’s Pharma team was there to present our strong vision for purpose-led solutions, spotlighting our commitment to addressing critical challenges across the landscape - from nitrosamine risk mitigation and cannabinoid formulation to sustainable innovations.
  • Here, we share four key takeaways from the event informing the future of pharma, as well as exclusive insights from our experts at CPHI.

Last month we made our debut at CPHI 2023 event in Barcelona, Spain, to unite with the pharmaceutical industry as a new company – dsm-firmenich. This year, 9 May 2023, marked the merger of DSM and Firmenich, bringing together two iconic companies, innovators powered by world-class science. At CPHI, we showcased our vision for purpose-powered solutions as newly formed and one united company. The event offers a perfect platform to connect with like-minded professionals, thought leaders and industry trailblazers to learn, innovate and ignite potential collaborations in the ever-challenging pharma space. We were also able to present our expanded excipients portfolio, including legacy Firmenich’s specialty flavors and advanced taste masking solutions. So, wondering what we learnt from the inspiring event? Read on to uncover our four key takeaways:

1. Innovation is the driving force behind a more sustainable, patient-centric future 

Research and innovation claimed the spotlight at CPHI, powering the pharmaceutical sector's growth by enabling new therapies and helping improve people's quality of life. As an innovative partner to the industry, we had the pleasure of hosting an exclusive reception dedicated to innovation alone. The event featured expert talks by representatives from IQVIA and KPMG. So, what did we learn?

IQVIA highlighted the spectrum of innovation in pharmaceutical products, from small molecules and formulations to breakthrough innovations in advanced therapies. They emphasized the movement towards making healthcare systems more sustainable and patient-centric – something we’re deeply invested in as a purpose-led company. KPMG addressed key milestones and success factors across the drug development journey, from identifying a promising compound to manufacturing and marketing. The experts also illuminated the benefits of a multidisciplinary process – Health Technology Assessments (HTA) – in overcoming patient concerns over pricing and reimbursement. Both presentations reinforced the importance of partnering in pharma to drive cutting-edge advancements in this space and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

At dsm-firmenich, innovation is at the heart of every product we develop, research project we undertake and business decision we make. It is our continuous drive, that sustains the development of advanced patient-centric solutions.

2. Patient-centric solutions are revolutionizing cannabinoid-based therapies 

At the show, the Pharma team further demonstrated its expertise in the cannabinoid space, spotlighting our cannabinoid API portfolio and unique innovation platform – formed in collaboration with our strategic partner, Brains Bioceutical. We discussed how the platform is addressing critical challenges in the rapidly evolving cannabinoid space, such as crafting solid oral dosage forms – a task that is front of mind for many manufacturers. Solid oral formats are the preferred option for most individuals and are therefore key to patient-centricity, offering good patient compliance as well as improved versatility in addressing both, acute and chronic symptoms. However, achieving such solid formats has been challenging in the cannabinoid arena, as these molecules are usually found in oil forms and have so far been frequently formulated in liquid drug products. Furthermore, they have limited bioavailability once administered orally, which poses challenges to drug dosing and drug absorption. dsm-firmenich is uniquely positioned to help pharmaceutical manufacturers optimize the target product profile of cannabinoid-based medicines, by merging a good physical and chemical stability profile with high API loading and optimal bioavailability of cannabinoids, in order to achieve superior therapeutic outcomes.

During the event, the dsm-firmenich Pharma team discussed its preliminary research focused on finding the ideal balance between API loading, long-term stability ad optimal bioavailability of these novel cannabinoid molecules needed to unlock patient-centric solid oral dosage formulations. Alexandru Zabara, Innovation Manager Pharma and Medical Nutrition at dsm-firmenich, discussed our preliminary research focused on optimizing the bioavailability of these novel cannabinoid molecules to unlock solid oral dosage formulations. Alexandru Zabara comments: “It was exciting to discuss our promising preliminary findings with delegates at CPHI, spotlighting opportunities considering solid oral dosage formulations for more optimal patient convenience and compliance. We’re dedicated to the evolution of cannabinoid therapies, and we hope that our Pharma team can guide customers and innovators towards the selection of APIs and formulation technologies poised for clinical validation and eventual product development, to ultimately benefit more patients worldwide. We’ve already started helping customers unlock the full therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in our new whitepaper which explores key considerations and expert insights along the cannabinoid drug development journey.”

What’s more, our Pharma team is continuously going the extra mile to push boundaries in the cannabinoid space. Did you know we recently embarked on a strategic partnership with Bod Science to advance groundbreaking cannabinoid-based drugs designed to address insomnia – a condition affecting millions of people worldwide? The collaboration is a significant step towards pioneering science and innovation in this field.

3. Drug safety: how antioxidants present a safe and effective strategy to nitrosamine risk mitigation

Over the past years, pharmaceutical companies around the world have been conducting one of the most significant drug safety audits ever due to the identification of potentially harmful nitrosamine contaminants in commonly prescribed drugs. CPHI revealed that addressing nitrosamine mitigation remains a critical market need in the pharma industry, and many drug developers are looking for guidance along their nitrosamine risk mitigation journey. There is no quick solution to this challenge. However, we showcased our approach to assisting formulators in implementing a tried-and-tested mitigation strategy using nitrite scavengers – ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol. These nitrosamine blockers are supported by extensive safety data and are extremely effective – even at low concentrations – as demonstrated by our research findings; a strategy recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As well as offering these ingredients as part of our portfolio, the Pharma team were also on hand to explain how our expert services can address the main concerns customers are facing in relation to nitrosamine contamination, including:

• Regulations. Our team can support customers with regulatory insights, guidance and extensive documentation.

• Formulations. We have extensive knowledge in formulation and technical expertise, as well as chemistry and toxicology proficiency.

4. Embracing change is key to a greener future

The healthcare sector has a big part to play in protecting our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change. Why? Because it accounts for 4-5% of total global emissions.1 To put it in context, if healthcare was a country, it would rank the 5th largest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide. Given the sizeable carbon footprint of this industry, it is no surprise that sustainability was a major talking point at CPHI. In fact, CPHI released a Sustainability Report, highlighting the latest trends in green pharma, many of which are already embraced by our Pharma business segment. For instance, we foster an atmosphere of innovation and cross-industry collaboration to reduce waste, cut emissions and make sourcing sustainable from the start.

At CPHI, we introduced the pharmaceutical industry to our Sustainability Imp’Act Card™ program. Notably, the CPHI Pharma Awards 2023 recognized the Imp’Act Card™ as a finalist in the sustainability category. Nelleke Barning, Vice President Sustainability Health, Nutrition & Care at dsm-firmenich comments: “We’re committed to bringing progress in sustainability to life. As part of our investment in a more resilient future for pharma, we’ve leveraged our Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) expertise to develop the Imp’Act™ Card. The LCA quantifies the environmental impact of a product, technology or process across its entire life cycle, to calculate and present an ingredient’s sustainability qualifications. This includes its environmental impact, traceability, certifications and social impact. Ultimately, the Imp’Act Card™ program helps our customers bolster their own green credentials and make more informed decisions when it comes to eco-friendly standards.”

Following a research roundtable discussion on sustainability, Nelleke Barning concludes: “Sustainability is becoming more and more important, and for sure also in the pharma industry. In terms of environmental sustainability, scope 3 emissions are the most challenging for the pharma industry as they account for the majority of a company’s carbon footprint and are the most difficult to identify. As such, there is a need to improve the monitoring of these emissions to dramatically reduce them. Transparency based on primary data across the value chain (such as done with the dsm-firmenich Sustainability Imp’Act Card™) is a big first step. Other key findings included the need to make operations more sustainable – rather than interfering with existing products bound by complicated regulations – such as, investing in renewable energy sources. Finally, we discussed the role of education, awareness and collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and governments to ensure that sustainability is effectively integrated into all processes and economically viable for a greener and healthier future.”


Published on

09 November 2023


5 min read


  • Cannabinoids
  • Innovation and R&D Services


1. Watts N, et al,.The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises. Lancet. 2021 Jan 9;397(10269):129-170.