Over the last ten or fifteen years, there seems to have been a real boom in contract synthesis companies. These are small outfits, many of them, anyway, that will make intermediates for you. Send 'em your synthetic route, how much final compound you need, and when you need it by, and they'll send you back a quote. (I also write a column for the trade magazine Contract Pharma, which covers this and the other outsourcing possibilities of the industry.)
This comes in handy when you want to keep your own people busy making new analogs, not diverted to making batches of competitor or reference compounds. And the price you pay for these is often a good deal compared to the price you'd pay to make it in house. (For one thing, the outsourcing company probably doesn't pay its people as much.)
That trend has been reaching its logical conclusion recently, with the entry of suppliers from India and China. Man, are these guys cheap. In many cases, they can underbid pretty much anyone here in the US, and they often do very good work (after all, there's plenty of well-trained scientific labor coming from both of those countries.)
It's gotten to the point that I don't see how the standard make-your-compounds-sir? contract houses are going to stay in business over here. Many of them have already been branching out, looking for some unusual type of chemistry to specialize in (nasty halogenations, high-pressure reactions) or getting into FDA-quality manufacturing for clinical trials, which is something that the Indian and Chinese companies can't yet provide - I think. Others are offering to do medicinal chemistry on an outsourcing basis: Let us develop your lead series! Structure-activity relationships while-u-wait!
Naturally, my nightmare is that that part of the business takes off and becomes a big moneymaker for the US firms. . .at which point it migrates to China and to India. I'm not sure that this is going to happen, or how long it would take, but I can't completely rule it out, either. An awful lot of other technical heavy lifting has migrated over there already, and I'm having trouble coming up with arguments about how we're immune. Perhaps it would do us all good, here in the US-based Big Pharma labs, to find some useful med-chem skills that would be harder to outsource. . .