Why Antibody Resellers Are Costing You...Big Time
Posted:  Tuesday, March 8, 2016           By:  The GenLogica Team

Antibody Resellers – An Overview

The research antibody market has hundreds of companies that supply products to scientists. However, many of these companies do not manufacture any antibodies. They simply buy antibodies from another company that does the manufacturing, re-labels them, and then offers the products as their own to the research community.

See Figure 1 below for an example of how several companies can offer the same antibody.


Figure 1:  Images of identical immunofluorescence applications from six different antibody suppliers (SOX2 Antibody). Along with other antibody information shows that these products are all the same antibody. The suppliers, with associated catalog number and price, are:

A)  Abcam (ab75485), $401.00
B)  Abgent (AM2048a), $265.00
C)  Aviva Systems Biology (OAAB07021), $289.00
D)  BioVision (6772-100), $265.00
E)  LifeSpan Bio (LS-C96467), $295.00
F)  RayBiotech (102-10271), $378.00

 

This raises two fundamental questions:

  • Why would a manufacturer sell to a company that is going to resell their product?
    • The reseller may have better market power and be able to reach more potential customers
    • Having multiple companies resell the product adds even greater potential market exposure.
  • Why would a company choose the business model of reselling antibodies from another supplier?
    • It’s cheaper to buy the product than to manufacture.
    • Very low barriers to market entry (all that is needed is a website and a simple logistics team in place)
    • Easy to obscure fact that the product is not their own

It should be noted that there are examples where setting up a partnership of this nature is needed. For example, academic institutions often generate antibodies as a part of their research. The institute will then license out the antibody as it does not have the infrastructure to sell the product, while a supplier is engaged with customers.

In addition antibody resellers will often add validation data to a product. This is a beneficial practice as additional data better characterizes the product. However, despite some of the “benefits” of reselling, this practice is fundamentally detrimental to the research community. Let’s explore how.

 

Delivery Times Up, Science Down

In today’s economy, people are used to getting things fast (Amazon Prime membership being a good example). The same is true for immunoassay products. However, purchasing from an antibody reseller can significantly delay product delivery times.

The main factor that impacts delivery time is whether the antibody reseller hold items in inventory.  If they do then they can ship without delay.  However, most antibody resellers provide their products “on-demand”, meaning they hold no inventory and first must order the product from their supplier.  Once it is received, they must re-label the product and then ship it to the customer.  This process can increase the delivery time by several days.

Delivery times are delayed even further if the reseller is buying from a company that is international, such as China, India, or Europe. Delays can also be lengthened if a company orders a product from another reseller, who then has to order the product from their supplier.  See the following table to review how antibody resellers impact delivery times.

Table 1:  Estimated product delivery times based on the corporate logistics practices of antibody resellers:

Buying directly from the manufacturer means that researchers will receive the products they need much faster, greatly accelerating their discovery.

 

Need Support? We’ll Get Back To You

It is a common for researchers to run into some technical issues with the antibodies they buy. These issues can cover a wide range of topics and possible solutions.  If support if required, researchers simply call or email the technical support group of the company that supplied the product.

If the company is a reseller then their ability to address technical issues can be impaired.  Routine inquiries can usually be addressed quickly, but more complex questions will require that they contact the company that supplied them the product.  They tell the researcher that they will have to contact them later for follow up.  This increases the time that it takes for the researchers to receive and answer.  If the researcher inquiry is time sensitive this delay can have significant consequences.

In addition, ordering directly from manufacturers provides great support for scientists as they have more access to antibody samples.  Due to the economics involved resellers typically don’t offer samples, while original manufacturers often will have this feature.  The research community greatly benefits from being able to try antibody samples to ensure the product will work within their experimental parameters.

 

Research Dollars Down The Drain

It’s easy enough to understand that all antibody companies, resellers included, need to make a profit. However, the profit that resellers generates comes at the expense of research dollars that could have been saved and put towards additional discovery.

By applying key assumptions the potential impact this has on total dollars wasted in the research antibody market can be estimated (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2.  Estimated global monetary losses due to purchasing resold antibodies.

The frightening aspect of this chart is that it assumes that antibodies always work, so even perfect antibody performance throughout the market still leaves significant money wasted that could have been used for additional scienctific discovery.

Let’s examine this process at work at the laboratory level.

  • Single Antibody Purchase:  Using the example from Figure 1 above it can be seen that the same antibody has a price range of $265-$401.  Any researcher that purchases the antibody at $401 could have saved up to $136.  
  • Total Laboratory Budget:  How do antibody resellers affect the total laboratory budget for antibodies?  By extrapolating total waste from the antibody market analysis, we can see that up to approximately 15% of the antibody budget per laboratory is wasted on overpaying for products (see Figure 3 below).

Figure 3.  Estimated antibody budget loss per laboratory due to purchasing resold antibodies.

Once again, the frightening aspect of this chart assumes perfect antibody performance, which does not exist.  A recent Nature article estimated that up to 50% of antibodies purchased do not work, meaning that not only are researchers purchasing bad antibodies, but they are overpaying for them as well.

 

What Now?

If you need an antibody than buying from the original manufacturer is the best option. GenLogica will guide you in your antibody purchase and save you crucial research funds:

  • Use GenLogica’s Antibody QuickPick search engine…it only lists originally manufactured products and provides independent quality assessment.
  • Use the Supplier Match reporting tool to learn more about the products you currently use. Our team will review the information and provide a detailed report on how likely it is that the antibody is a resold product (or not).

In conclusion, the reseller market looms large in the research antibody industry. The vast majority of resellers represent wasted time and money.  It is crucial that researchers have access to systems that allow them to find the best products for their experiments and learn more about the products they currently use.

GenLogica is your partner in research and discovery.  Our platform can relieve the burden of poorly performing antibodies and save you the time and money that is crucial for scientific discovery.

 

The GenLogica Team
 

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