With a bunch of biologic drugs in development, Roche's Genentech sees the need for more production capacity. To meet it, the biotech is expanding a fill/finish facility in Oregon, investing more than $100 million on the project and adding dozens of jobs there.
Taking a page from famed partners like Sanofi and Regeneron and Roche and Genentech, Merck has signed a sweeping R&D deal with biotech NGM Biopharmaceuticals, promising up to $450 million for 5 years of pipeline-building collaboration.
Innovent Biologics has raised $100 million in venture cash in hopes of becoming the premier maker of biotech drugs in its native China, advancing a pipeline of biosimilars and proprietary treatments.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder and managing director of India's Biocon, has had an interesting 36-year journey from brew master to biosimilars maker. She says her vision has always been for Biocon to affect global health in a big way.
The biosimilars market has attracted some big companies with even bigger claims about their ability to drive down manufacturing costs, with Samsung and its ambition to undercut biologic prices by 50% the standout example. Now a small Australian biotech is trumpeting the cost-saving it can realize after marrying its expression technology to the scale of the Serum Institute of India.
Bristol-Myers Squibb hooked up with South Korea's Samsung last year when it wanted someone to handle manufacturing overseas for its hot-selling melanoma drug Yervoy. But with more promising biologics in its pipeline, the New York-based drugmaker has decided to deepen its commitment.
The U.K. is investing £38 million in its National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, part of the country's "High Value Manufacturing Catapult" effort started several years ago to increase its presence in biologics.
Japanese drugmaker Kyowa Hakko Kirin, which develops its own drugs and is in a partnership with Fuji to make biosimilars, has completed construction on a new active pharmaceutical plant for biologics.
Sanofi is joining forces with UCB to study new small-molecule approaches to treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis, looking for an easier form of administration to some of the blockbuster injected biologics that dominate the field. The pharma giant is ready to spend more than $138 million for a package of milestones and an upfront payment to UCB in exchange for the partnering arrangement with its NewMedicines research arm.
One of the signal achievements for the biotech industry in the Affordable Care Act was a provision granting 12 years of market exclusivity to biologics. The decade-plus period of protection against generic competition ensured that biologics would remain center stage in the R&D world, especially as Big Pharma tumbled over the patent cliff as it tried to rethink its megablockbuster-sized budgets for drug development.