The Switzerland-based firm described 2014 as “starting with a good momentum,” following last year’s 8% drop in sales for its pharma and biotech divisions to CHF 1.4bn ($1.6bn), and a 44% fall in profit across all divisions to CHF 87m, compared with the full year 2012.
Though actual figures have not been reported, Lonza said there had been strong demand in the quarter for its mammalian cell-line construction programmes at both its Slough, UK and Singapore facilities.
“The Custom Development market is still growing at a steady rate, with mammalian technologies still at the forefront,” spokesperson Constance Ward told Biopharma-Reporter.com, driven by the increased biologic make-up of pharma’s pipeline.
In particular, “Pre-clinical and early clinical development is a critical time that sets the foundation for the product quality and manufacturing process. The more efficient the development process, the faster a company can invest resources into the most viable candidate,” she continued.
“With its leading technologies, Lonza is well positioned to support its customers in this process and is therefore also trying to continuously outreach into the market.”
AtoZ of ADC development
One area Lonza will use its mammalian cell culture expertise in is its antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) services which, Ward told us, puts the firm in a “unique position to offer complete development and manufacturing services.”
“Unlike any other contract manufacturing organization in the industry,” she said, Lonza can offer “mammalian cell culture, linker technology, advanced chemical synthesis of cytotoxic payloads, as well as conjugation of the payloads to produce the ADCs.”
This has therefore led the firm to construct a new facility at its Visp, Switzerland site – already manufacturing the active substance in Roche’s breast cancer drug Kadcyla – set to open within the next three months and, Ward said, already supported by a number of different contracts for different companies.
Visp will also play host to a number of Microbial Development services contracts being transferred from the firm’s Hopkinton, Massachusetts facility which has begun an operations phase-down following Lonza’s review of its manufacturing network.
“We have been of course in close contact with all of our customers [at Hopkinton],” Ward said. “Our customers recognize our commitment to addressing their short term and long term supply needs during this time of transition.”
Whilst Ward was unable to speak of specific contracts and products being transferred to Visp, she told us: “Tech transfers between Lonza sites are quite routine,” though would involve re-qualification/re-validation and regulatory approval.