Bristol Myers Squibb acquires US viral vector production facility from Novartis

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Bristol Myers Squibb Novartis CAR-T Cell therapy Zolgensma Us

Bristol Myers Squibb will boost its cell therapy manufacturing network with in-house viral vector production thanks to the acquisition of Novartis’ Libertyville, Illinois facility.

The facility and its operations have capabilities to produce viral vector for both of Bristol Myers Squibb’s CAR T cell therapies (Abecma for multiple myeloma and Breyanzi for lymphoma).

In-house facility

Novartis decided last year to cease production of spinal muscular therapy Zolgensma at the Libertyville site; instead concentrating all manufacturing in Durham, North Carolina.

Bristol Myers Squibb will now take over the site, helping support the company’s long-term ambitions in cell therapy, said Karin Shanahan, executive vice president of Global Product Development & Supply at Bristol Myers Squibb.

“The addition of an in-house facility for viral vector production that complements our external partnerships affords us the ability to manufacture current and next-generation vector technology, and increase future capacity," she said.

“Bringing the Libertyville site operations and employees onboard to join our expanding global cell therapy manufacturing network enhances the depth and breadth of our existing capabilities.”

Both Abecma and Breyanzi gained their first FDA approvals in 2021. In their first full years on the market in 2022, Abecma reported revenues of $388m while Breyanzi drew in $182m.

Bristol Myers Squibb highlights that with cell therapies ‘rapidly transforming’ cancer treatment, the demand for viral vectors is also increasing significantly.

Dual-sourcing vector strategy

Manufacturing cell therapies is both operationally and technically complex as they are created uniquely for each individual patient, using a patient’s own T cells as the starting material. Viral vectors are a key component of engineering T cells for infusion back to the patient.

Bristol Myers Squibb says its ‘dual-sourcing vector strategy’ – combining both internal and external partnerships for viral vector production - will enable reliable delivery of CAR T cell therapies to keep pace with growing demand and ensure that more eligible patients can access these treatments.

“Bringing viral vector production in-house helps us further build our leadership position in cell therapy with potential for more patients to get treated by one of our transformational cell therapies," said Lynelle Hoch, senior vice president, Global Cell Therapy Franchise Lead, Bristol Myers Squibb. “The strong demand for our differentiated and transformational cell therapies underscores their value to patients, and we are committed to pursuing opportunities to bring these treatments to patients in need.”

The company already has three cell therapy manufacturing facilities situated in Bothell, Washington; Warren, New Jersey; and Summit, New Jersey. Two more manufacturing sites are in development in Devens, Massachusetts, and Leiden, Netherlands.

The Libertyville facility is expected to transition to Bristol Myers Squibb by the end of the year.

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