- Lonza Group AG has acquired a California facility from Shire plc, giving the Swiss drug developer another tool to grow its already lucrative mammalian manufacturing business.
- Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the 58,000-square-foot site adds 1,000 liter and 2,000 liter single-use bioreactors to Lonza's arsenal, as well as associated downstream capabilities. The plant employs more than 100 people, "all of whom will have the opportunity to continue in their role with Lonza," according to a Tuesday statement.
- Lonza expects the new addition to complement its Slough, U.K. facility, which produces monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins for multiple mammalian drugs. Mammalian manufacturing has become a key driver of revenue for the company, helping to increase sales 27% year over year to CHF 1.06 billion (about $1.09 billion) during the first half of 2017.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Gilead Sciences Inc.'s Sovaldi was a biologic.
Biologic drugs are much more difficult to manufacture than small molecules, but the extra work can lead to monstrous payouts. Most of the best-selling drugs in the world — think AbbVie Inc.'s Humira (adalimumab) — fall into the biologic category.
But in order to craft many of those treatments, drugmakers need mammalian cell manufacturing capabilities.
Lonza, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical contractors, has been quick to capitalize on the growing market potential. In the last year alone, the company dropped $5.5 billion to acquire capsule maker Capsugel Inc., built out its gene therapy offerings through a licensing deal with Massachusetts Eye and Eye, and entered an agreement with Sanofi SA to create a large-scale biologics manufacturing facility in Switzerland.
And snagging Shire's Hayward facility appears to Lonza be the latest strategic move.
"As a committed partner to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, Lonza recognizes the need for established and dependable global manufacturing facilities," Karen Fallen, business unit head for clinical development at Lonza, said in the Oct. 3 statement. "The acquisition of this site allows our customers greater access to clinical capacity from a U.S. site."
On the flip side, this is another manufacturing plant Shire is handing off. Earlier this year, the Irish pharma sold a spot in Donau, Austria, to Merck & Co.'s animal health business. Financial terms of that deal weren't disclosed, as was the case with the Hayward transaction.
Of the 14 facilities involved with manufacturing that Shire enumerated in its most recent annual filing, Hayward is the smallest by square foot. While the drugmaker doesn't own the site anymore, it apparently will continue to manufacture products through Lonza.
"Moving forward, Lonza will serve as a partner to Shire, managing the manufacture and supply of reagents used in a number of Shire products," said Matt Walker, Shire’s head of technical operations.