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What Is a CDMO?

Updated on Nov 17, 2023 By Jason Ellis, PhD

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A contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) is a business that provides drug development and manufacturing services to support product research, idea development, and production. New companies entering the medical or biotechnology space will face many regulatory hurdles before new products are ready for launch; and larger, more long-standing companies sometimes need additional manufacturing bandwidth.

CDMOs manage multiple aspects of the product development process and guide companies through regulatory requirements and commercial scalability. They handle much more than simply outsourced manufacturing; they are capable of participating in the collaboration and product development that occurs before production and manufacturing.

Importance of CDMOs in Biotech and Medical Industries

CDMOs partner with biotechnology and medical product startups to bring a product through development to market. They provide a necessary resource during the tumultuous process of product innovation, development and testing, and manufacturing and distribution.

Because of their market experience, hiring a CDMO can reduce costs for biotech and medical product companies and provide valuable expertise. By maintaining their network of manufacturing sites and staying current with regulatory requirements, contract development and manufacturing organizations also allow their customers to focus on innovation and design without having to worry about manufacturing regulations and requirements.

CDMO Service and Functions

CDMOs typically offer a wide range of services and resources to companies across the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical industries. They sometimes serve as a support system for each step in the product development process. Versatility is a hallmark of an excellent organization, and the team should be ready to assist in every area of product preparation.

Drug Formulation and Testing

Drug development, including formulation and testing, can be daunting for companies with limited resources. CDMOs can optimize the drug development processes by providing multiple formulation options for the best product and accessibility to specialized equipment for product testing.

Preclinical testing is rigorous and must be well-documented; incomplete preclinical submission documents can delay market launch for medical products. Some contract development and manufacturing organizations manage preclinical trials and documentation to ensure approval of the initial preclinical submissions.


CDMOs offer biotech and medical companies the ability to manufacture drug candidates and products at market and preclinical scales. This lets them usher the company through the development stage to commercial production. Reliable manufacturing partnerships are an integral part of meeting eventual commercial demand and the exacting product development process.

Quality Control and Regulatory Compliance

Quality control and regulatory compliance are important aspects of launching a new biotech or medical product. CDMOs help ensure that products meet strict demands and regulations for safety, purity, and efficacy. This helps maintain current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) and secures patient safety.

Because of the strict regulations placed on medical industries, gaining regulatory approval can present a challenge to less experienced companies. CDMOs have experience navigating regulatory requirements within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other regulatory groups to guarantee product approval.

Global Connections

Companies with multiple branches or markets in varying locations can benefit from a partnership with multinational CDMOs due to their experience with technology transfer. They aid in moving technology between facilities, making it easier to expand into new regions or markets.

Versatile and Knowledgeable Teams

Most CDMOs comprise large and diversely trained teams ready to tackle various projects regarding product and process development or manufacturing and logistics. Teams often include medical professionals, biologists, and staff with medical device and sterilized product experience. By utilizing the full extent of a widely specialized team, CDMOs provide extensive knowledge and networks required for breaking into the medical sector.

Cost Efficiency

CDMOs can reduce costs in the long run by providing access to special facilities and expertise without the need for capital investments by their customer, freeing up resources. By managing regulatory, manufacturing, and quality assurance factors, they allow business executives to focus on other critical business decisions.

Difference Between CMO and CDMO

The work of CDMOs generally encompasses the entire process of product development, including early research, preclinical trials and development, manufacturing, regulatory adjustments, and commercial-scale production. Because of this broad spectrum of offerings, they provide a one-stop solution for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies looking for a long-term partner.

CMOs, or contract manufacturing organizations, primarily specialize in manufacturing products for GMP. CMOs can efficiently produce drug products based on client specifications. CMOs are commonly hired for a single manufacturing step or piece of the overall product pipeline, whereas CDMOs are often involved in every step of the process.

Benefits of CDMO Partnerships

CDMOs have experience in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, along with the manufacturing of other biologics and medical devices. This expertise ensures a constantly updated knowledge base that serves as the foundation for new product development. This breadth of experience also provides risk mitigation. Contract development and manufacturing organizations have significant experience with quality assurance and understand the standards that must be met for product approval, thus decreasing risk.

Because CDMOs can expedite product development and manufacturing processes, the timeline for a product to be prepared for the market can be significantly shorter. They  also provide the resources necessary to produce a product at a commercial scale.

Successful CDMO Relationships

There are a few key factors to consider when determining which CDMO might be the right steward for your product.

Clear communication is a hallmark of a successful and efficient partnership. Both the contracting customer and the organization must maintain open communication. All project leads should be in regular contact regarding project status updates and promptly address issues and concerns.

A partnership can only succeed if the organization prioritizes the goals of the product or company. Clearly outlining the goals and objectives of each stage of development and product production can help ensure regulation standards are met. Deciding on the scope of the project or product market can change both the timeline and success criteria of the overall relationship.

Akadeum and CDMO Partnerships

CDMO partnerships can be crucial to the success of new products. Transparency throughout the product development process is an important quality, and with the right partnership in place, market success will be closer than ever. Akadeum Life Sciences is actively seeking partnerships to assist in bringing our innovative microbubble products to commercialization. Our revolutionary cell separation technology utilizes natural buoyancy to negatively select cells of interest easily. Contact the Akadeum team to learn more about our partnership process!

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