Recombinant proteins have been produced for over 30 years. Applications range from enzymes used in laundry detergents to antigen-detecting antibodies in cancer therapy. Despite similarities in manufacturing, drastic differences in retail pricing between recombinant proteins used for industrial (non-medical) versus pharmaceutical purposes exist. Industrial proteins often have a retail price in the tens of dollars per kilogram while recombinant proteins for medical use may cost billions of dollars per kilogram. This manuscript will briefly review manufacturing techniques and contrast the differences between industrial versus pharmaceutical production. Maximizing manufacturing technologies to reduce cost-of-goods (CoG) is desirable. However, the major reason for the very high pricing of pharma protein products does not reflect CoG, but the financial obligations of clinical trials, research and development, patent constraints, marketing, and return on investment.
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