Biogen ups biologics capacity 73% through extra 144,000L at new Swiss plant

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Biogen has invested 1bn CHF into its new biomanufacturing facility in Luterbach, Solothurn, Switzerland. Image: iStock/eyegelb
Biogen has invested 1bn CHF into its new biomanufacturing facility in Luterbach, Solothurn, Switzerland. Image: iStock/eyegelb

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Biogen will equip its new Swiss biomanufacturing plant with eight 18,000L stainless steel bioreactors supplied by ABEC.

In July 2015​, Biogen announced it was investing CHF 1bn ($1.2bn) into a new production plant in Luterbach, Switzerland as part of its plan to bolster its current drug supply network to meet future demand.

This week the biotech told us it expects commercial production to begin in early 2019 and has struck a deal with bioprocess equipment and solutions vendor ABEC to equip the facility.

“ABEC was selected through a rigorous sourcing exercise.  We considered previous experience, quality of work, price, ability to meet our ambitious schedule, and ability to seamlessly integrate with our Engineering partners and team,”​ said Biogen spokesman Markus Ziegler.

The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based vendor has worked with Biogen before, providing the firm some of the industry's first 15,000L bioreactors and providing process modelling and purification systems across its other manufacturing sites.

Ziegler told the Swiss plant will use the latest technology and an advanced operations model to deliver substantially increased productivity, giving Biogen an extra 144,000L of bioreactor capacity once production commences.

“The design of our next-generation manufacturing facility allows us to produce all of our biologic products.  The first phase of the facility will include eight 18,000L production bioreactors,” ​he said. "The facility will be capable of an output of 10 metric tons annually."

Current capacity

Luterbach will significantly increase Biogen’s combined bioreactor capacity of 198,000L from its sites in Hillerød, Denmark​; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

And while using fixed stainless steel equipment will address [its] portfolio’s demands for high productivity and high throughput processes,” ​Ziegler said the firm also incorporates disposable technology in its network to ensure a flexible approach to manufacture.

Biogen has built a hybrid biologics manufacturing network with both stainless steel based and single use facilities, as well as facilities where a mixture of fixed and single use equipment is used.

“This hybrid approach effectively balances the needs of Biogen’s product portfolio in terms of flexibility, cost, and throughput while allowing a seamless transfer of processes and products between facilities.” 

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