Good news CMOs: Roche will still outsource after $877m biologics investment

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

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Good news CMOs: Roche will still outsource biologics
Good news CMOs: Roche will still outsource biologics
Roche will continue to work with biologics CMOs despite its plans to spend CHF800m ($877m) on additional in-house production and development capacity.

The Swiss drugmaker announced its intention to ramp up biologics capacity at plants in Germany, Switzerland and Vacaville and Oceanside in the US earlier, citing supply sustainability and flexibility to accelerate the development of pipeline drugs as the key drivers for the move.

Spokesman Luke Willats told the new capacity “will allow us to ensure reliable supply of our commercial products as well as deliver on our industry-leading pipeline.

These investments give us greater agility and flexibility, allowing us to more effectively meet any demand upside to our commercialized products and mitigate risks associated with any unplanned supply events.  With regard to the pipeline, they provide additional capacity as well as ensure a buffer for pipeline accelerations​.” 

Specifics of the investment have not been disclosed beyond the fact that it is intended to support demand for drugs like RoACTEMRA, Perjeta and Kadcyla, with the latter being produced at a new antibody drug conjugate (ADC) plant Roche is setting up in Switzerland​.

Outsourcing ongoing

But contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) that have invested in biologics capacity in anticipation of big pharma demand need not be concerned as Roche’s is not pulling back from outsourcing according to Willats.

He told us that: “Our announced investments in our facilities in the US, Germany and Switzerland are not intended to minimize our relationships with external partners - we will continue to leverage our key suppliers around the world," ​adding that “they will continue to play an important role in our ability to ensure supply and mitigate risk​.”

The other part of the investment plan – Willats continued – will involve strengthening relationships with contractors.

In addition to the investments to our own internal network, our strategy includes establishing strategic partnerships with select targeted reliable external manufacturing organizations.​  

Our biologics manufacturing strategy requires both an internal and external network to help ensure agility and flexibility to address demand uncertainty and supply resiliency. This strategy takes a product life cycle approach from launch through growth and maturity of our product portfolio​.”  

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