The spread of the coronavirus out from Wuhan to other parts of China has forced biopharma companies and service providers to assess the potential impact of the pathogen on their operations, employees and clients.
Sanofi, for example, responded to the outbreak by postponing all events in China and asking its employees not to travel to and from the Chinese province of Hubei or its capital Wuhan.
WuXi Biologics has offered similar, but more restrictive, advice. In a statement, the Chinese contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) advised clients who plan to travel to its home country to instead conduct the meetings via videoconferences or teleconferences.
The CDMO’s advice applies to all of China, rather than just the Hubei province covered by Sanofi’s statement. All of WuXi Biologics’ Chinese facilities are based in and around Shanghai, more than 500 miles to the east of Wuhan.
WuXi Biologics’ geographic distance from Wuhan has insulated it from the effects of the outbreak so far. Less than 6% of the CDMO’s employees have travelled to or through Wuhan or been exposed to people coming from the city.
No WuXi Biologics employees have been diagnosed with coronavirus and, as it stands, the CDMO has enough staff to restart operations with the break for Chinese New Year now over.
WuXi Biologics also said its supply chain has minimal exposure to Wuhan, stating that none of its major suppliers work out of the city. Collectively, those factors led WuXi Biologics to say it does not expect “to see any negative impact of this outbreak on our operations.”
Other companies have been more equivocal, in many cases opting against factoring the effects of the virus into their financial guidance but not ruling out the potential for the outbreak to have an impact.
WuXi Biologics’ efforts to reassure clients that its facilities in China are functioning as normal comes as a time when the CDMO is expanding internationally. Last month, WuXi Biologics revealed it is set to buy a German biologics drug product fill-and-finish plant from Bayer for €77m ($85m).
The deal will see WuXi Biologics enter into a long-term lease for the building and buy the equipment it contains. Bayer plans to continue to rely on the facility as a back-up finished product plant for its hemophilia A drug Kovaltry (antihemophilic Factor (recombinant)), which is primarily produced at a site in California.