Continuing its push into the contract manufacturing of biologic drugs, Japan’s Fujifilm has agreed to pay $890 million for Biogen’s biologics facility in Hillerød, Denmark. As part of the deal, the plant’s 800 employees will now work for Fujifilm.
The sale is somewhat unusual. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies that produce biologic drugs have tended to hold on to their biologic production facilities even as they were content to sell off plants producing small-molecule drugs.
Opened in 2003, the Hillerød facility features 90,000 L of production capacity. Biogen will shift emphasis to a $1.2 billion biologics facility it is building in Solothurn, Switzerland, and expects to open next year. The firm also operates a biologics plant in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
The deal will help Biogen replenish capital at a time when the company has been rapidly spendng its cash. Last June, the Massachusetts-based firm paid $700 million to increase its stake in the Samsung Bioepis biosimilar-drugs venture in South Korea. In March, it agreed to pay $800 million for Nightstar Therapeutics, a London-based biotech firm developing drugs for inherited retinal disorders.
“We believe that we have enhanced our manufacturing capabilities and capacity for biologics with this transaction,” Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a statement about the Fujifilm deal. As part of the agreement, Fujifilm will supply products to Biogen, including its multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, while it brings third-party customers into the facility.
Since the 1990s, when the photographic-film market started to decline, Fujifilm has been investing aggressively in other sectors, including the contract manufacturing of biological drugs. In recent years, the firm’s Diosynth Biotechnologies subsidiary has acquired biologics plants in North Carolina, Texas, and England. Fujifilm has also devoted resources to growing its lab-chemicals business and a line of regenerative medicines.