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Contract Manufacturing: Top Firms Invest In Technology For Biologics

by Michael McCoy
September 6, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 36

Lonza and ScinoPharm, two leading manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), have struck separate deals to expand their capabilities to make biologic drugs.

Switzerland’s Lonza, the world’s largest contract API producer, has acquired Vivante GMP Solutions, a Houston-based firm focused on the new field of virus-delivered therapeutics. Vivante is the former contract-manufacturing arm of Introgen Therapeutics, which declared bankruptcy in December 2008 after FDA declined to approve its lead product.

Virus-based drugs, which include vaccines and gene therapies, use a deactivated virus to deliver active ingredients inside targeted cells. “Vivante’s expertise will allow us to accelerate our entry into the viral-based manufacturing arena,” says David Smith, head of Lonza’s therapeutic-cell solutions unit.

With the acquisition, Lonza is adding a specialized manufacturing technique to an already large portfolio of microbial and mammalian cell fermentation capabilities.

In contrast, ScinoPharm, one of Asia’s largest contract manufacturers, is taking its initial steps into the realm of biologic drugs. The firm, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of small-molecule pharmaceutical chemicals, has made an investment of undisclosed size in Tanvex Biologics, a U.S. firm set up last year to develop “biosimilars,” which are generic versions of biologic drugs. Tanvex was founded by Allen Chao, who retired as head of the generic drug maker Watson Pharmaceuticals at the end of 2007.

Hardy Chan, cofounder and chief scientific officer of ScinoPharm, will become Tanvex’ CEO. Chao will remain its executive chairman. The two men are already acquaintances because Watson owned 31% of ScinoPharm until last year.

According to ScinoPharm, Tanvex is building a manufacturing facility in San Diego and will have research centers in both the U.S. and Taiwan’s Nankang Software Park.



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