Pfizer sells biosimilars plant in China to Wuxi

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Dilok Klaisataporn
© GettyImages/Dilok Klaisataporn

Related tags: Biosimilars, China, Wuxi

Pfizer is selling a biologics manufacturing unit in the eastern city of Hangzhou to WuXi Biologics, despite the US pharma giant having ploughed US$350m into the site in 2016 to develop biosimilars.

The factory had been kitted out for the production of affordable biosimilars and other biologics for the Chinese market.

In an emailed statement sent to BioPharma-Reporter, Pfizer commented: "After a comprehensive review of the biosimilars market and the company’s global manufacturing network, Pfizer has made the difficult decision to halt its biosimilars programs in China and sell 100% of its equity interest in Pfizer Biologics (Hangzhou) Co. Ltd."

This transaction notwithstanding, Pfizer said it remains committed to continue to realize its purpose in that market: breakthroughs that change patients’ lives in China.

It added that, once the deal is finalized, WuXi Bio will utilize the site to expand its local workforce and business operations to be able to start manufacturing much-needed biologics for its partners to benefit patients in China and those worldwide.

The sale sees that contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) also acquiring Pfizer’s labor force at the 50,000-square-meter Hangzhou plant. The facility, which has been operational since 2018, contains a pair of 2000-liter single-use bioreactors and is equipped for filling vials and syringes for shipment in ready-to-use doses.

Wuxi Bio said the deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2021, will immediately boost its commercial drug substance (DS) and drug product (DP) capacities to enable it to address surging manufacturing demands. “Globally, DS and especially DP capacities are in urgent need now. The acquisition will allow us to better enable our global partners to develop and manufacture premier-quality biologics."

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

February 2019 saw the first biosimilar approval in China, the product in question was developed by local biotech, Henlius, and today, the Chinese market for biosimilars is booming, with China’s regulator having brought in a number of reforms to improve the regulation of biosimilar and biologics development and also to accelerate the review of product candidates.

Related topics: Markets & Regulations, Biosimilars

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