- Cipla plans to invest about $91 million (1.3 billion Rand) to create a state-of-the-art biosimilar manufacturing plant in Durban, South Africa, the company announced last week.
- The proposed facility will be located in the Dube Tradeport special economic zone and Cipla hopes the approval of the plant would pave the way for the first bio-cluster in Africa.
- Cipla aims to use the new plant to produce biosimilar drugs for the African market, where only about 1-in-50 patients have access to biologics, the company said.
Cipla, like many other Indian drugmakers, has a strong legacy of developing cheaper versions of drugs, typically in the generics space.
In 2001, Cipla paved the way for broader access to antiretroviral drugs for treatment of HIV/AIDS, becoming the first company to provide a triple-combo antiretroviral treatment option for less than one dollar per day.
Now Cipla is aiming to accomplish a similar feat with biosimilars.
“Biosimilars are important to enable access to advanced cancer and autoimmune treatments," said Steven Lehrer, Director of Cipla BioTec, a subsidiary of Cipla. "These treatments are only used by about 8% of patients who should be treated worldwide mainly due to the high costs of these drugs.
Based on current plans, the Durbin-based biosimilars facility will use Cipla BioTec's proprietary manufacturing software and single-use technology, according to the company.
At full capacity, the plant will create 300 jobs, including 180 high-skilled jobs. Construction is expected to begin next year, and Cipla aims to be up and running at the plant by late 2018.