Genzyme unveils $540m expansion plan for manufacturing, R&D

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies Chronic kidney disease

US biotechnology major Genzyme officially opened four European
facilities last week as part of a investment package eventually
expected to cost $540 million (€449m).

The series of openings, which will see Genzyme become one of the largest biotechnolgy operations in Europe, with over 2,000 staff, includes.

a site in Geel, Belgium, for the production of recombinant monoclonal antibodies.

an $8 million centre at its UK manufacturing site in Haverhill, to carry out process development and clinical trial support for renal disease products; a $157 million fill-and-finish plant for biologic medicines in Waterford, Ireland; and a drug discovery research facility in Cambridge, UK, that will employ 150 people within five years.

The moves comes in the wake of a number of other large-scale investments in biological drugs production capacity, from the likes of Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The site in Geel, Genzyme's first manufacturing facility worldwide for the production of humanised monoclonal antibodies, will produce Campath (alemtuzumab for injection), used to treat B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia the company will begin preparations to produce in-house batches of Campath this year, and anticipates that it will produce the first complete production runs within 12 months.

It will also be used to make the firm's Pompe disease drug Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa), currently filed with regulatory authorities in the US and Europe.

This plant is located on the site of a facility acquired in 2001 from Dutch biotechnology firm Pharming.

Genzyme also said the expansion in Waterford will make this facility the company's major European production and distribution centre for a broad range of its products, including enzyme replacement therapies for rare genetic diseases, and for Thymoglobulin (anti-thymocyte globulin), used for the treatment of acute rejection in patients with a kidney transplant.

Waterford is already the primary tabletting and bottling centre for Renagel (sevelamer hydrochloride), used for patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis.

Genzyme's Haverhill, UK plant, which was significantly expanded in recent years to produce bulk sevelamer hydrochloride for Renagel, is being further expanded to support clinical development of a wide range of potential new therapies, including sevelamer carbonate for chronic kidney disease, and Tolevamer for Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea, said Genzyme.

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