Bayer Breaks Ground for California Biopharma Unit

20.05.2019 -

Bayer has broken ground for its new $150 million US cell culture technology center at Berkeley, California. The new facility will target biological therapies in particular in the fields of oncology and cardiology.

The German group’s new Cell Center Technology Center will combine automation, digital capabilities and single-use bioprocessing technologies to streamline production. This will enable it to bring new medicines to patients faster, Judy Chou, global head of Bayer Biotech, said.

Bayer HealthCare’s investment, the largest to date at its West Coast Berkeley campus, will help fuel its biologics pipeline when it comes on stream in 2021. From the California location, the drugmaker will be able to draw from the large biotech talent pool in the area for its workforce and development partners.

Last year, Bayer said it was adapting its pharmaceutical R&D strategy to focus more on external collaboration.

In announcing the California plans, CEO Werner Baumann was criticized for investing yet more in the US while radically downsizing its workforce at home to help fund the $63 million acquisition of agribusiness giant Monsanto.

The Berkeley campus dating from the 1970s underwent a $100 million expansion in 2017 but ironically saw job losses a year later, ahead of the group’s plans to transfer production of the Factor VIII haemophilia treatment Kovaltry to Germany.

Bayer meanwhile has reversed its strategy in favour of concentrating production of all its Factor VIII products in California. Baumann said the fairly new plant at Wuppertal, Germany, will be closed ,with the loss of 350 jobs. He explained that overcapacity and newer competitive products are eating into sales, so that only one plant is now needed.

The Wuppertal facility currently produces Bayer’s two blood coagulants, Kogenate and Kovaltry, as well as the new hemophilia treatment Jivi.