During the Wells Fargo Healthcare Conference, Momenta’s CEO Craig Wheeler spoke about the associated costs of using WuXi Biologics for the manufacturing of a number of its biopharmaceutical products from its site in WuXi, China.
“If you look at China in general, certainly costs have gone up because the labour costs have gone up substantially,” he told investors in Boston last week. But, he continued, the biggest driver of economics in the cost of biomanufacturing is the utilisation of the plant.
“The more utilised it is… the lower the costs you can get,” he said, “and so what we like about Wuxi so far is they had actually been able to keep the plants very efficient, and effective and operating which means that they have relatively cost effective production.”
Momenta does not own or operate its own facilities for commercial scale manufacturing but according to Wheeler WuXi makes “the majority of our portfolio” for the global market.
He added as WuXi is already “one of the largest” biologics product manufacturers in the world, and growing – the WuXi site is soon to open a 28,000L single-use facility – his firm would benefit from available capacity when needed to feed fluctuations in biosimilar demand.
“One of the things that clearly attracted us to Wuxi is that they were actually building their whole concept of the plant based on [disposable] technology,” he said.
“The challenge of biosimilars is that we talked about with the portfolio, for each product, you don't know what capacity you need. And it's very hard when you have 20,000L reactors to scale down. It's very hard if you only have 1,600L reactors to scale up, only have a flex pack, so you can scale up or down pretty easily.”