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Sanofi-Aventis is investing more than $250 million in Vitry-sur-Seine, France, to build its first monoclonal antibody production facility. The company says the production capacity will support its push into antibody-based drugs that complement its existing biotechnology-derived vaccines, insulin, and heparin. "Monoclonal antibodies will open the way to a new generation of better targeted and more effective treatments with fewer side effects," CEO Christopher A. Viehbacher said at an event last week to launch the construction project, which is expected to be completed by 2012. The Vitry-sur-Seine site will also house biotech R&D operations and be open to small drugmakers with which the French drug giant might collaborate. Sanofi will end pharmaceutical chemical activities at the site by 2011 and move production to other locations. The company recently announced a plan to prune 14 drug candidates from its development pipeline.
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