AstraZeneca to Establish $1.5 Billion ADC Manufacturing Facility in Singapore

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          News

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AstraZeneca has announced plans to construct a $1.5 billion manufacturing facility in Singapore dedicated to producing antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a promising class of cancer therapies. This will be the pharmaceutical giant's first end-to-end ADC production site, supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). While specific details on financial incentives from the Singapore government were not disclosed, the strategic move underscores AstraZeneca's commitment to expanding its global manufacturing footprint.

ADCs are engineered antibodies that specifically target tumor cells, delivering cell-killing chemicals directly to the cancer site. The multi-stage production process of ADCs includes generating the antibody, synthesizing the chemotherapy drug and its linker, conjugating these components, and completing the ADC substance.

See also: The Rising Popularity of Antibody-Drug Conjugates, with Challenges

AstraZeneca's Chief Executive, Pascal Soriot, highlighted Singapore's reputation for excellence in complex manufacturing as a key factor in the decision. The new facility is expected to enhance AstraZeneca's capability in the production of precision medicines, aligning with the company’s broader expansion strategy into markets such as China, Indonesia, and India. The company’s breast cancer therapy, Enhertu, developed in collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo, exemplifies its focus on innovative oncology treatments.

The Economic Development Board's Chairman, Png Cheong Boon, welcomed AstraZeneca’s investment, emphasizing its role in advancing Singapore's development and manufacturing of precision medicines, as well as its potential to create jobs and economic opportunities.

Construction of the facility is scheduled to commence by the end of 2024, with operations anticipated to begin in 2029. AstraZeneca has committed to ensuring that the facility will have zero carbon emissions from its first day of operations, aligning with its sustainability goals.

Paul Tomasic, Managing Director and Head of European Healthcare at Houlihan Lokey, commented for BiopharmaTrend:

“With a wide portfolio of in-house Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs) at various stages of clinical and pre-clinical development, AstraZeneca’s plan to build a new facility by 2029 exemplifies the long-term strategic thinking of large-cap pharmaceutical companies aiming to control their supply chains more effectively. This move reflects the industry's recognition of the complexities and costs associated with developing and manufacturing ADCs, which necessitates substantial investment in infrastructure to ensure quality and efficiency in production.

The construction of this facility also highlights a broader trend within the pharmaceutical industry, where strategic initiatives are being directed towards high-growth market segments. ADCs, for instance, represent a significant opportunity with an estimated market size of $10 billion, growing at a rate exceeding 15% annually, driven largely by their promising applications in oncology. By investing in dedicated facilities, companies are positioning themselves to capitalise on this rapid growth and technological advancement.

The strategic significance of ADCs in the pharmaceutical industry is underscored by other recent high-profile acquisitions. AbbVie’s $10 billion acquisition of ImmunoGen was partly motivated by the latter's expertise in ADCs, particularly in the area of solid tumor oncology. Similarly, Pfizer's acquisition of Seagen for $43 billion significantly bolstered its oncology capabilities, integrating Seagen's pioneering ADC technology.

These acquisitions illustrate how major pharmaceutical companies are significantly expanding their oncology portfolios and technological capabilities to maintain a competitive edge in the market. AstraZeneca in particular, stands out as a market leader in the increasingly competitive market for ADCs, with the development of the site in Singapore further cementing its position.”

AstraZeneca's portfolio includes six wholly owned ADCs in clinical development and additional candidates in pre-clinical stages, reflecting the company's strong pipeline in this innovative field of cancer treatment. The establishment of the Singapore facility marks a significant step in the company's efforts to enhance its global supply chain and support the production of next-generation oncology therapies.

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