Biopharmaceutical boom takes Lonza to Singapore

By Gregory Roumeliotis

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lonza, Biotechnology

Swiss custom manufacturing firm Lonza has entered into a joint
venture with investment management company Bio*One Capital to built
a $250m (€210m) large-scale mammalian cell culture plant in
Singapore, underlying Lonza's confidence that demand for the
contract manufacturing of commercial biopharmaceuticals will
continue to grow.

The facility, expected to be completed by the end of 2009, will be Lonza's second large-scale mammalian manufacturing plant after its Biologics facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Located in Tuas Biomedical Park, it will include up to four mammalian bioreactor trains, each with a flexible capacity of 1,000 up to 20,000 litres and inclusive of the respective purification units.

Lonza believes that despite some big biotech companies, like its client Genentech, concentrating on increasing their own manufacturing capacity in biopharmaceuticals, its project pipeline will remain robust.

The biopharmaceutical sector overall is certainly booming, with approximately one-fourth of new drugs coming on the market being biopharmaceuticals and generating in excess of $35bn in 2004, with annual sales projected to surpass $52bn by 2010.

Lonza expects the Singapore plant to contribute about a quarter of its overall biopharmaceutical business and allow it to expand its customer base in Asia.

The company says the project leverages on Singapore's strengths in process development and clinical manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals as well as the country's excellent capabilities in good manufacturing practice (GMP) manufacturing of bulk actives for global pharmaceutical companies.

"Singapore is an interesting place with many skilled scientists and good access to Asian markets,"​ Lonza spokeswoman Christine Menz told In-PharmaTechnologist.com​.

"Strategically we see the biopharmaceutical market growing and this new facility will offer Lonza more flexibility to respond to growing demand."

Some analysts believe that Lonza's reluctance to specify the precise capacity of the plant may indicate that certain customer commitments are still pending.

Nevertheless, when fully completed, the facility is expected to employ more than 300 people.

"Bio*One Capital is very pleased to enter into this joint venture with Lonza to establish Singapore's first commercial-scale biopharmaceuticals manufacturing facility,"​ said Swee-Yeok Chu, CEO of Bio*One Capital.

"Our common goal now is to build a state-of-the-art facility and grow the joint venture in the medium term into the world's premier supplier of biopharmaceuticals custom manufacturing solutions to pharmaceuticals and biotech companies globally."

In January Lonza announced a significant expansion plan in its Portsmouth site, with the groundbreaking for the 5000-litre bioreactors scheduled for April.

The investment expands Lonza's manufacturing portfolio consisting of 2,000- 5,000- and 20,000-litre bioreactors- the fourth 20,000-litre bioreactor in Portsmouth will become operational in mid-2006.

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