Catalent plans capacity expansions at two biologics facilities

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/RTimages)
(Image: Getty/RTimages)
Catalent is planning to add capacity at two of its biologics manufacturing facilities, setting it up to grow in an area in which demand continues to outstrip supply.

Somerset, NJ-based Catalent​ made a major move into contract biologics manufacturing last year when it paid $950m (€793m) to acquire Cook Pharmica​. The deal gave Catalent ownership of an 875,000-square-foot biologics facility in Bloomington, IN to complement its existing plant in Madison, WI.

Initially, Catalent indicated an interest in moving the fourth and fifth production trains it planned to open in Madison over to Bloomington. However, it is now looking to expand both facilities.

We're moving forward with a fourth and fifth train in Madison. We're doing the engineering study right now and have had those conversations with our board​,” said John Chiminski, CEO of Catalent, during the company's Q3 earnings call yesterday. “Then we're also looking at additional capacity, probably two by 2,000 [liters], within Bloomington."

Catalent’s interest in expanding both sites reflects a belief that the contract biologics manufacturing sector is poised for a period of sustained growth.

Contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs), most notably Samsung BioLogics​, have brought a considerable amount of biologics capacity online in recent years and continue to add to their footprints.

Yet, Catalent thinks there continues to be plenty of opportunities in its chosen sub-5,000L part of the market​. Chiminski sees a “supply and demand imbalance​” that he expects to “support an attractive pricing environment​” for at least the next five years. 

Catalent has considerable scope to grow its operation to correct the imbalance. Chiminski said the Bloomington facility is using around 45% of its capacity, a figure he hopes to grow to 80% over the next four years.

Delayed expansion

Chiminski’s growth prediction is based on Catalent’s experience of expanding the Madison facility, where the addition of a third production train is increasing utilization. Like the mooted Bloomington expansion, the third train at Madison added two 2,000L bioreactors.

Catalent committed to the $34m expansion​ of the former GE Healthcare site in Madison in 2016 but ran into some difficulties along the way.

This was not related to the equipment or this new suite itself, this was just the component filter that we use in the process,”​ said Chiminski.

Catalent has since resolved the challenges by identifying the root cause and the train is now operational, albeit a few months later than originally hoped.

The company is positioned to make a quick start now the train is ready. Catalent signed contracts with a number of companies during construction and expects utilization of the capacity to begin ramping up in the coming months.

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