This collaboration with a global vaccine player is A-Bio's first commercial agreement since it started operations in November 2003. Under the contract, A-Bio will work with GSK Bio to develop and produce clinical lots for one of its vaccine products at A-Bio's Good Manufacturing Practice-standard facility in Singapore.
A-Bio is the first biologics CMO to be set up in Singapore, and operates one of only a few such facilities in Asia. But the award of this contract suggests that CMOs in Europe and the US should look to their laurels, as competition from Asia is likely to increase in biologics, just as it has in the manufacturing of chemical-based drugs.
A-Bio's facility is located in Singapore Science Park II and when fully complete in 2006 will operate four manufacturing suites, each designed to house up to a 10,000L bioreactor. In addition, the facility will be designed to accommodate future expansion, according to the Singaporean company. At present it is focusing on supplying pilot scale material.
The operation was formerly headed by John Nine, formerly corporate vice president of US drug major Schering-Plough and president of SP's technical operations, who remains on the board of directors. He was instrumental in SP's decision in the early 1990s to establish its bulk pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing facility in Singapore.
A-Bio and GSK Bio said they intend to extend this collaboration to include several other projects in the near future.
Singapore has emerged as a hothouse of pharmaceutical production in recent years, as multinationals have located here as a springboard into Asia, benefiting from generous tax concessions and Singapore's strong intellectual property protection.
For example, earlier this year, GSK announced a €48 million expansion of its production capacity there in a move which it said strengthened its presence in the Asian market, while Pfizer has spent SGD 600 million (€284m) on a Singapore plant, its first large-scale facility in Asia, which went on-line in July. Also instrument maker MDS Sciex plans to open a plant making mass spectrometers in 2006.