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Wuxi opens biologics plant with JV partner AstraZeneca in attendance

By Gareth Macdonald , 22-Oct-2012
Last updated the 22-Oct-2012 at 14:50 GMT

Wuxi AppTec has opened a biologics manufacturing facility that will play a key role in its recent accord with Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca.

The firm – a subsidiary of Wuxi Pharmatec – claims the plant in Wuxi, China is the first in the country to comply with European and US good manufacturing practices standards (GMP) and the first globally to use fully disposable production tech.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony earlier this month Wuxi CEO Ge Li said: “This cGMP biologics facility has greatly improved WuXi's services in biologics manufacturing and further showcases our commitment to global clients.

A representative of one of these clients – AstraZeneca R&D president Martin Mackay – attended the event and set the facility opening in the context of his firm’s deal with the Chinese services company.

No single company has all the solutions to the healthcare challenges of today. That's why collaborations such as our joint venture with WuXi AppTec are so important. Our mutual ambition is to greatly increase the number of people who ultimately benefit from our medicines."

The collaboration – which was announced in September – saw AstraZeneca’s biologics unit MedImmune form a joint venture with Wuxi that will initially focus on the development of the former’s candidate autoimmune disease treatment MEDI5117 for the local market.

At the time MedImmune said it opted to partner with Wuxi, rather than simply outsource local development, to share risk and gain access to the Chinese market, citing manufacturing support as another key factor.

This manufacturing work was also one of the ways Wuxi will generate revenue through the Medimmune deal as spokesman Ron Aldridge explained to Outsourcing-pharma.com.

WuXi potentially has three ways to earn returns for our shareholder: service revenue for services provided by WuXi in the near term for the joint venture, part ownership of commercialization rights for the molecule in China in the long term if MedImmune does not acquire full rights, and compensation from MedImmune in the intermediate term if they do acquire full rights.

Biologics services have been a key focus for Wuxi of late. Just prior to the AstraZeneca deal the contract research organisation (CRO) gained access to a human monoclonal antibody technology through a deal with US transgenic animals firm Open Monoclonal Technology .