AbbVie to open $320m Singapore facility with ADC capacity

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Molecule Adalimumab

Singapore: Asia's biologics hub?
Singapore: Asia's biologics hub?
AbbVie has invested $320m (€432m) into its first Asian manufacturing facility and says it will support an emerging antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) pipeline.

The facility, set to come online in 2019, is AbbVie’s first new plant since the company span out from Abbott Laboratories in 2012​ and, located in Singapore, will be its first manufacturing presence in Asia.

The facility will support AbbVie’s oncology and immunology pipeline, spokesperson Adeline Teo told, and will house its ADC platform technologies.

This facility “allows AbbVie to have biologic and potent small molecule manufacturing at one site,”​ Teo said, adding the combination “allows for the creation of potent drugs which have a targeted approach in the delivery of medicine.”

Furthermore, “synergies can be created between support structure and analytical testing” ​by housing both small and large molecules at the same site, she said. 

Last month AbbVie paid $25m (€18m) to expand a partnership with Seattle Genetics, paying the firm an upfront fee of $25m (€18m) for access to its pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) dimer ADC technology and EC-mAb site-specific conjugation technology.

In March 2011 the firm – as Abbott – signed an $8m contract with the ADC-focused biotech, extending this by a further $25m in October 2012.

AbbVie manufactures the blockbuster monoclonal antibody drug Humira, which clocked in worldwide sales of $9.3bn in 2012, according to the firm’s end of year report​, generating around half of the company’s revenue.


Whilst India and China are well tested for small molecule and API manufacturing, Singapore is “the fastest growing biologics hub in Asia,”​ according to Teo, with an educated workforce, an openness to partnerships with research institutes and hospitals, and a solid record in receiving regulatory approvals all contributing to the decision to set-up the new facility there.

Furthermore, Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) told of how biomanufacturing had become an “important pillar”​ of Singapore’s manufacturing sector.

In less than seven years, Singapore has become home to nine biologics manufacturing facilities, including three latest investments by Novartis​, Amgen​, and [now] Abbvie​,” said Kevin Lai, Director of Biomedical Sciences and Consumer Businesses, EDB.

Collectively, these biologics plants represent approximately S$2.7 billion in total investments and employ close to 2,000 people.”

The Future

We also asked Lai how the biomanufacturing future of Singapore was shaping up. “In the medium term, the slew of biologics projects under construction currently is expected to boost output when the plants enter commercial production,” ​he said.

Moving forward, we expect output to become more stable as more companies enter Singapore or expand their existing operations here to give the industry a bigger critical mass,”​ he continued, adding: “As we grow this critical mass, Pharmaceutical output will likely become more diversified and less volatile.”

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