Largest biologics plant in world set as Roche U-turns over biosimilar fizzle

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Expansion plans at Cali plant recommissioned as biosimilar threat doesn't materialise for Roche
Expansion plans at Cali plant recommissioned as biosimilar threat doesn't materialise for Roche

Related tags Genentech

Genentech has recommissioned plans to make a Californian facility the largest biologics plant worldwide after anticipated revenue drop from biosimilars did not materialise.

The subsidiary of Swiss pharma giant Roche is set to invest 140m CHF ($153m) into its cell culture 2 (CCP2) facility in Vacaville, California, pushing total capacity up to 240,000 litres in what the firm has said “will be the largest biotech manufacturing facility in the world.”

Genentech spokesperson Robin Snyder told the firm was doing a U-turn at the site after plans were shelved three years ago as fears of competition from biosimilars have faded.

“In 2010, we projected revenue and product demand decreases, and with more network capacity than needed, we suspended production plans at the CCP2 manufacturing facility.”

She added: “The anticipated product erosion from competitors’ biosimilars has not occurred, and instead we have experienced increasing demand for our products.”

Older equipment is set to be replaced, minor construction modifications will be made and additional automated devices will be added at the facility as part of a recommission that will ensure Genetech has “a reliable supply”​ of its commercial products and can continue developing its biologics pipeline, Snyder said.

The facility – which currently manufactures Avastin, Rituxan, Herceptin, Perjeta and Xolair – will also benefit from an additional 200 employees, including technicians, scientists and engineers, to support the increased manufacturing capacity, and engineering lots are anticipated to begin in June 2014 with full licensing in the first quarter of 2016.

Manufacturing Contract for Samsung

As parent body Roche told this publication last month​, outsourcing of biologics will still be a part of the firm’s strategy even amongst capacity ramp ups of Vacaville and other facilities.

One such firm who is set to benefit is Samsung BioLogics who has been selected to contract manufacture biologics for Roche at two of its facilities in Incheon, South Korea.

“This collaboration with the world's largest biotech company is an important milestone for Samsung as it validates our long term strategy of becoming a leader in biopharmaceutical manufacturing,” ​said Samsung BioLogics CEO Tae-Han Kim late last month.

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