Sanofi and Lonza to Build Biologics Plant
French drugmaker Sanofi and Swiss fine chemicals producer and toll manufacturing specialist Lonza plan to jointly invest in a new €270 million large-scale mammalian cell culture facility for monoclonal antibody production at Lonza’s Visp, Switzerland, site. The plant, which is expected to be fully operational by 2020 and employ 200 people, will be operated in the form of a 50:50 joint venture. It will be the fourth such facility Lonza has built, including one in the US and one in Singapore.
The companies said the partnership will enable Sanofi to react quickly to fluctuations in demand in a short time frame, reinforcing its capability to launch high-quality, next generation biologic medicines and ensure consistent access for patients. At the same time it will provide Lonza with needed capacities to respond to growing manufacturing demands for large-scale mammalian cell culture based therapeutic proteins.
Under the terms of the arrangement, Lonza will build the facility and will support the joint venture in operating it. The Swiss company will be able to use its half of the capacity to manufacture products for other companies, if it is not needed to do work for Sanofi. It will also be able to use any of Sanofi’s capacity not being utilized for its own purposes.
Marc Funk, COO Pharma & Biotech at Lonza called the strategic partnership “a clear win-win situation for all participants as it “will enable the development of further innovative business models based on the requirements of our customers.” Funk said the agreement with Sanofi represents first module of its plan to address the long-term needs of the market needs by establishing a state-of-the-art strategic biologics manufacturing platform.
“In addition to the investments we are making in building our own internal production capabilities, the joint venture between Sanofi and Lonza emphasizes our commitment to provide access for patients to high quality therapeutic monoclonal antibodies,” said Philippe Luscan, Executive Vice President Global Industrial Affairs at Sanofi. Lucscan said around 60% of the French company’s pipeline is made up of biologics, including monoclonal antibodies, dedicated to disease areas such as cardiovascular, immunology and inflammation, neurology and oncology.