The expansion, at Piramal Healthcare Pharma Solutions’ (PHPS) facility in Grangemouth, Scotland, means the India-headquartered contract manufacturer can support customer demand for scale-up and has capacity to produce up to 1.2kg of ADC per batch.
Outsourcing-pharma.com spoke with PHPS director Gerhard Klement at CPhI in Frankfurt last week, who explained that investing in new technologies that are beyond the scope of the the firm's core active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) offering is a key part of its growth strategy.
“We need to invest in businesses which maybe today are in baby shoes,” Klement said, using the the rapid growth of the antibody production sector over the last few decades as an example of the potential benefits.
"Back in the 70s...nobody really believed in this business [antibody production]. Now if you look at how much money is generated in this business, by antibodies, it is tremendous."
“The ADC business will grow substantially, maybe not to the level we have seen in biotech, but it will be a very serious value generation vehicle for us,” he added.
Further support for this idea comes from the increasing level of competition in the ADC space – Lonza recently boosted its ADC capacity as did SAFC and Goodwin Biotechnology – which Klement also acknowledged as a motivation for the expansion.
“We had one of our main competitors, the guys with the big L, and we had to keep up with this one in terms of our facilities,” he said, adding that Piramal invested a significant amount of money in the Grangemouth site, particularly in its quality control (QC) lab.
Beyond the latest expansion, which is the second at the site in as many years, Piramal may also consider adding further ADC capacity in the next few years according to Klement.
“I still have in mind that we will set up somewhere another facility, really focusing exclusively on the commercial part not on the development part.
“The team in Grangemouth is known for their excellent work in terms of handling the technology and we would remain with this team of course but when it comes to the commercial part we may look for another location.
According to Piramal the Grangemouth facility has so far produced over 300 batches of ADCs in the 2g to 500g range using a variety of technology platforms, including those licensed from Seattle Genetics and ImmunoGen.