Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a new project in Ireland earlier this month, followed by Amgen's completion of a continuous processing facility in Singapore. Now AstraZeneca says it needs more biologics capacity and will spend in excess of $200 million to build out a facility in Maryland.
Debate about the appropriate price for drugs is ongoing. It costs a lot of money to discover and develop drugs, including the money that gets sunk into candidates that don't succeed. And because of the way the U.S. market works, it will have the highest prices that the market will bear.
When it comes to selling big, cancer drugs have a lot going for them. Their targets--deadly diseases that in many cases can kill quickly--put them in high demand, even as they continue to redefine "premium pricing." Some newer drugs can be targeted at patient groups who have the best chances of benefiting, helping justify those high costs. And biologics, for now, don't face the same generic onslaughts that pummel pharma sales come patent expiration time.
That's not to say they don't face roadblocks. Plenty of cancer heavyweights have run into failed label expansions, governmental cost critics, patent woes and biosimilar threats. But even so, the top 10 managed to rake in worldwide sales between $1.7 billion and $7.8 billion, according to EvaluatePharma data.
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When AbbVie announced its plans for a $320 million bulk manufacturing facility in Singapore in February, it said it would be its first in Asia when it was ready to roll near the end of the decade. But the drugmaker has now picked up a smaller API plant in Singapore and it will be up and running in 2016.
For the second time in four months, Baxter International finds itself recalling highly concentrated potassium chloride. This time it's a labeling problem, one that the company says has the potential to be life-threatening.
Next year, Merck KGaA plans to start a biomass heating plant in the U.S. but for now is starting on a project in India that will use cashew and coconut shells, recycling a local waste product into biomass fuel.
India's Aurobindo has recalled a lot of an epilepsy drug because some of the capsules contain no drug at all.
NewLink Genetics, the small Iowa company working on a promising Ebola vaccine, has been looking for manufacturing muscle, not to mention development experience and marketing know-how, to get its Ebola vaccine to market.
Amgen CEO Robert Bradway hinted several years ago that the company was on the "cusp" of a new manufacturing process for making cell-based drugs that would upend the industry, being faster and cheaper. Today, Amgen said that time has arrived, with completion in Singapore of a $200 million plant that incorporates continuous processing.
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