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Lonza to build plant for Sanofi

Dedicated plant will manufacture biologic drugs for the French firm

by Rick Mullin
March 3, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 10

A photo of a purification vessel at Lonza’s Portsmouth facility.
Credit: Lonza
A purification vessel at Lonza’s Portsmouth facility.

Lonza and Sanofi have signed a supply agreement under which the Swiss chemical maker will operate a large-scale mammalian cell culture facility dedicated to Sanofi at its site in Visp, Switzerland.

It is Lonza’s first customer-dedicated biologics plant at the sprawling site, which more typically manufactures small molecules for drug industry customers. The firm operates three similar sites in Singapore and Portsmouth, N.H., its main biologics operation.

Under the contract, Lonza will construct and operate the facility. The two partners will share available capacity with excess maintained to support increases in Sanofi’s demand. Lonza will be free to market its share of capacity as well as unused Sanofi capacity where available.

The partners will invest $285 million for the first phase of the project, which is expected to come on-line in 2020.

Approximately 60% of Sanofi’s pipeline is comprised of biologics, including monoclonal antibodies, being developed in therapeutic areas such as immunology, cardiovascular disease, and oncology, according to Philippe Luscan, head of industrial affairs at the French drug company. “Lonza is a highly experienced partner in this field, and the capabilities which this joint venture will create are critical to meeting our patients’ needs.”

Marc Funk, chief operating officer for Lonza’s pharmaceuticals and biotech business, says the company intends to pursue dedicated plants for biologics as part of a new “strategic roadmap” that seeks to match assets to customers’ needs.

The Sanofi project closely follows the announcement of a dedicated plant in Visp for Clovis Oncology’s small-molecule cancer drug rucaparib.


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