Last week the Swiss drug major announced plans to start constructing a cell culture-based biomanufacturing facility next to the solid dose pharmaceutical production plant it operates at the Tuas Biomedical Park in Singapore.
Spokeswoman Anja von Treskow told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “We have chosen Singapore as a strategic supply point as it offers a wide range of advantages due to its strong local biomedical presence and knowledge, skilled labour as well as proximity to growth markets in Asia.”
She went on to explain that the plant - due to be operational in 2016 - will be designed to handle products made using mammalian cell culture, in both small and large volumes, and will house bioreactors, centrifuges, downstream purification technology, filtration systems and bulk filling equipment.
Novartis originally planned to start work on the $500m (€392m) facility in October 2007 with the aim of making it fully operational sometime this year. However, the project was shelved when the firm formed a biologics manufacturing accord with Lonza in 2008.
At around the same time Lonza started ramping up its biologics capacity in a wide-ranging programme that saw it expand its own manufacturing facility in Singapore in June 2011.
Treskow told us that: “This strategic partnership [with Lonza] helped to bridge and take on certain capacity needs of biologics for Novartis Pharma in the past years.”
Now the situation has changed according to Treskow who said that: “With the upcoming strong pipeline of biologics, internal evaluations have underscored the right timing and commitment to build a dedicated facility for biotechnology in Singapore.”
She added that approximately 25 per cent of the candidate compounds in Novartis' product pipeline are biologcs.
However, while the strengthening pipeline may have prompted the reactivation of the factory plan, it does not mean the end for Novartis’ agreement with Lonza.
“We do not foresee any changes for the Lonza agreement as this partnership will help us to bridge capacity and volume shifts as well as niche technologies in the future" Treskow said.