Roche buys Lonza’s Singapore biologics plant

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Escherichia coli

Basel-headquartered Roche has paid fellow Swiss firm Lonza $290m (€203m) for its Singapore biologics plant in a bid to secure long-term manufacturing capacity for biotech cancer drugs.

The acquisition is a result of an option provided to Roche’s subsidiary Genentech under a 2006 deal that would have seen Lonza manufacture the Avastin active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) on a contractual basis.

And, while US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance to produce Avastin is not expected until next year, Roche’s decision to exercise its option ahead of the 2012 deadline suggests it is keen to secure biologics capacity, particularly since acquiring Genentech.

Jim Miller, VP of Genentech Singapore, which will run the plant for the time being, stressed the importance of the country as a manufacturing destination, suggesting that “Singapore will play an important role in brining important medicines to patients who need them​.”

The facility, which is on a 10 acre site at the Tuas Biomedical Park, houses 80,000 litres of fermentation capacity. Roche said the plant and 230 of its workforce will be integrated into its other local manufacturing operations.

Roche’s interests in Singapore include an Escherichia coli ​(E.coli) production facility at which it plans to make components for its drug Lucentis when manufacturing operations are cleared by the FDA.

Roche did not respond to in-PharmaTechnologist’s request for additional information.

Singapore attractive for biologics production, Lonza

Lonza, which is busily constructing a second large-scale mammalian cell culture based manufacturing facility in the country, was also positive about its deal with Roche.

A company spokesman told in-PharmaTechnologist that Genentech acquired the plant earlier today but was unable to provide further information for reasons of confidentiality.

He did say that Singapore is an ideal location for complex biologics manufacture due to its “committed work force, excellent education system, competitive cost position and strong IP protection laws.”

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