The deal – terms of which were not disclosed – will see the firms share resources and expertise in the development of antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) and was formed in response to growing demand according to a Fujifilm spokesperson.
“Antibody drug conjugates are an expanding niche in the market and a possibility for growth” she said, citing the recent extension of Abbott’s collaboration with Seattle Genetics as an example of the pharmaceutical industry’s increasing interest in this type of technology.
She also told Outsourcing-pharma.com why Fujifilm had partnered with Piramal rather than other manufacturers - like Lonza and Novasep - that have ADC development capabilities.
“Piramal has produced over 300 batches of ADCs for 30 new chemical entities, including the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug on the market [Seattle Genetics’ Adcetris]” she said, adding that “other players in this area are competitors of ours so we wouldn't partner with them.”
“We also have a long history with Piramal, we were both part of the Avecia Group” she continued, also citing the proximity of Piramal’s ADC facility in Grangemouth, Scotland to her firm’s own manufacturing site in Billingham, England as a factor.
The new deal and the expansion of Abbott and Seattle Genetics’ accord underline the level of interest the pharmaceutical industry has in ADCs.
Quite why there is this interest is not clear given that – in the US - Adcetris is the only ADC on the market following the withdrawal of Pfizer’s Mylotarg in 2010. In Europe no ADCs have been approved, although Seattle's partner Takeda Millenium Pharmaceuticals has submitted Adcetris for review.
Perhaps another reason top end CMOs are adding ADC capacity is that it allows them to differentiate their offerings from lower-cost manufacturers that lack the technical knowhow to do this type of complex production.
This idea is supported by comments that Novasep’s Patrick Glaser mad in July when his firm invested $3m in ADC production capacity at its plant in France.
“Manufacturing for the life science sectors is facing a series of challenges. Drug candidates become more specific and personalized, whilst the economic climate demands more cost-effective and safe solutions” he said.
Similarly, Lonza’s decision to fulfill recent ADC contracts at its facility in Visp, Switzerland also suggest ADCs are a way larger firms can differentiate their offering given that the firm’s stated aim of doing more high tech, high value work at the plant.