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Lonza envisions five new plants at Visp for modular manufacturing biz

By Gareth MacDonald+

28-Jul-2017

Lonza to base Ibex modular biomanufacturing service at new facity at Visp (source Lonza)
Lonza to base Ibex modular biomanufacturing service at new facity at Visp (source Lonza)

Lonza has started work on a facility to house its new modular tech-based biomanufacturing service at its site in Visp, Switzerland.

The Swiss life sciences launched its service – Ibex Solutions – this week during its half-year results presentation.

It said the aim is to provide flexible production capacity for drugs and bio-conjugates made using mammalian, microbial and cellular systems.

Lonza said the service – which is expected to create “several hundred jobs” – is designed help customers get products to market faster than they otherwise would, claiming the modular approach can cut 12 months or more off development timelines.

Manufacturing shells

Lonza began building a dedicated facility for Ibex at its Visp site in June, although the official ground breaking ceremony is due to be held later this year.

Samanta Cimitan, head of strategic global programmes at Lonza, said: "We envision five manufacturing complexes, that we will build on a staged approach, depending on customer’s demand.

"One of the five buildings is being built right now and it is the one dedicated to the previously announced Sanofi-Lonza JV . Simultaneously, we are building one wing of another manufacturing complex to accommodate the first customer projects coming.

Cimitan added that: "An important feature of Ibex Solutions is that we will always be one shell ahead.  This feature provides 12 months of time advantage to market and patients. While the first wing is close to fill up, another shell is being built. The construction of the first wing of the manufacturing complex 1 has started in June 2017. When the first wing is fitted out we will trigger the building of the second wing." 

Lonza does not have any preference in terms of equipment suppliers Cimitan said, explaining:  "We work with the best supplier in the specific area/technology/process. We discuss this openly with our customers and make the best possible decision."

Visp challenge 

The investment is a continuation of Lonza’s long-running strategy of conducting more complex, higher margin drug product at Visp.

The aim is to offset the negative impact the strong Swiss franc has on the site’s profitability and it ability to compete with producers elsewhere.

The strategy has seen Lonza increase capacity in specific areas – antibody drug conjugates in 2013 for example – and transfer work previously carried out at its plant Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Visp.

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