- Fujifilm, the once photography-focused firm turned diversified holding company, is laying down $130 million to expand its pharmaceutical manufacturing operations.
- The investment will go toward the company's Diosynth Biotechnologies business, which produces active ingredients for other drugmakers and has recently completed manufacturing sites in Texas and the U.K. Those sites are slated to open in early 2018 and this summer, respectively.
- The Texas plant cost ¥10 billion ($93 million) to build, and Fujifilm is now pumping in $28 million more to add three 2,000-liter mammalian cell culture bioreactors. Meanwhile, the U.K. site, located in the town of Billingham, will get 10,000 square feet of new labs to establish a Mammalian Cell Culture Center of Excellence.
Fujifilm dodged some of the photography industry's downfall as film sales tapered off years ago by becoming a holding company and collecting an assortment of businesses that spanned across many industries.
Healthcare, including drug development, has been one of the reorganized company's more lucrative units — accounting for 17%, or $3.9 billion, of total revenues last year, according to an annual report.
At the same time, big pharmaceutical players have increasingly turned to contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) to produce their medicines. A recent report from market research firm Results Healthcare found the global outsourced drug manufacturing market hit $71.5 billion in 2015 and is growing 6.6% annually.
Sensing a strong market, many CMOs have jumped at the chance to ramp up operations. One instance came last September, when Lonza inked a licensing agreement with Massachusetts Eye and Eye, granting the big manufacturer access to special adeno-associated viral vectors its customers could use for developing gene therapies.
The trend hasn't escaped Fujifilm either. The Japanese company has worked to flesh out its own pipelines and development technologies. In 2015, for example, it acquired human cell manufacturer Cellular Dynamics International for more than $300 million.
The transaction is reflective of Fujifilm's particular interest in biologic drug production, which hinges on the ability to grow human and mammalian cells in large quantities. The layout of the Texas facility further emphasizes that interest, with the ability to add on 24,000 liters of upstream capacity in the future "to meet much needed customers' clinical and commercial demands," according to an April 18 statement.
"These assets will enable Fujifilm to provide 'best in class' facilities, technology and operational know how to the industry," the company said in the statement. "They are also a key in our continuing commitment to develop future medical counter measures and pandemic flu response candidates for our long term partners."