At the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last week, Celltrion’s chairman Seo Jeong-jin revealed its third biomanufacturing facility will be constructed outside of its native South Korea.
The news, reported by The Korea Herald, contradicts previous expansion plans made by the biologics maker. In May 2016, the firm told Biopharma-Reporter it was investing $275m at its site in Songdo, doubling the size of one plant to 100,000, and building a third plant housing 120,000L of mammalian cell culture capacity.
This was confirmed by Celltrion spokesperson Hee won Park, who told us while the initial plan announced in 2016 for the third plant was 120,000L at Songdo, the firm is now reviewing building a third facility overseas “to ensure stable supplies for global partners.”
As well as its own biosimilar pipeline, Celltrion entered into a biosimilar development partnership forged in 2009 with Hospira. Hospira has since been acquired by Pfizer and Celltrion continues to supply the Big Biopharma firm with a number of biosimilars, including Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb).
The firm also has global infliximab supply deals in place with firms including Egis, Hikma, Perrigo, Nippon Kayaku, and BioGaran. And in 2016 Celltrion inked a deal to supply Teva with versions of Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Rituxan (rituximab).
Hee confirmed Celltrion is still adding 50,000L of capacity at plant number 1 in Sondo, but would not confirm the new overseas facility would boast 360,000L as stated by The Korea Herald.
“We can only confirm that we are reviewing the plan for the third plant overseas including the site and the capacity,” we were told. “Once we are ready to finalize and announce all the details, will surely update you with it.”
The U-turn comes several months after fellow Korean biologics maker Samsung BioLogics said it was considering building its fourth facility outside of the country, nearer its clients in Europe or the US.