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Lonza to invest $500 million in a fill and finish plant for biologic drugs

Swiss firm contends the commercial-scale facility will complete an end-to-end services offering

by Rick Mullin
July 1, 2022

A white buiilding in Switzerland.
Credit: Lonza
Lonza acquired its drug fill-and-finish plant in Stein, Switzerland, from Novartis in 2019.

In the latest move among pharmaceutical manufacturing firms to establish dosage-form drug production services, Lonza says it plans to spend more than $500 million to build a commercial-scale fill-and-finish facility for biologic drugs at a site in Stein, Switzerland.

Lonza is one of the largest pharmaceutical services firms and a pioneer in contract manufacturing of active ingredients for biologic drugs. It launched its dosage-form drug business in Basel, Switzerland, in 2016, working on injectable and infusible versions of antibodies, drug conjugates, peptides, and small molecules. Lonza has since added dosage-form manufacturing at its plants in Visp, Switzerland, and Guangzhou, China. It acquired the Stein site from Novartis in 2019.

But to date, most of its dosage-form services have been for drugs in clinical trials. Lonza claims the new facility will enable it to provide customers with commercial-scale quantities of both active ingredients and dosage-form biologic drugs, which are typically injected or infused. “This new facility will enable us to capture additional market share and fulfill sustained customer demand for commercial drug product manufacturing,” Jean-Christophe Hyvert, president of Lonza’s biologics and cell and gene business, says in a press announcement.

The move to expand dosage-form services for injectable drugs follows Lonza’s sale last year of oral dosage-form drug plants in Ploermel, France, and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Several other contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) have added dosage-form services as part of an overall strategy to serve drug makers with everything from process research to finished-product manufacturing. For example, Siegfried, another Swiss firm, acquired a fill-and-finish business in Irvine, California, in 2012. In 2020 it acquired two dosage-form drug plants in Spain from Novartis.

CordenPharma, another CDMO, recently acquired three oral-dose manufacturing operations—two in Switzerland and one in Portugal—from Vifor Pharma. And Catalent acquired a dosage-form drug facility in Anagni, Italy, from Bristol Myers Squibb a month before Lonza purchased the Stein facility from Novartis.

Industry consultants applaud Lonza’s plan. Jan Ramakers, a consultant based in the Netherlands, says the project may establish Lonza as the first CDMO to offer a full range of services for commercial-scale biologic drugs.

US-based consultant Wayne Weiner says in an e-mail that Lonza’s project “greatly enhances their franchise in biologics (including cell and gene therapy) and more squarely positions the company to compete against leading injectable players,” including Thermo Fisher Scientific and Catalent. The project validates an integrated services strategy that is “continuing to gain traction in the CDMO sector,” Weiner says.

Lonza expects to complete the project in 2026.



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