Singapore Burgeoning with New Biotech Facilities

Apr 22, 2007
By BioPharm International Editors

Singapore’s efforts to grow its biologics manufacturing sector received a significant boost on March 28, 2007, when the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) announced that Genentech, Inc. (San Francisco, CA, www.gene.com) has decided to establish a commercial-scale microbial-based biologics manufacturing facility in Singapore. The Genentech biologics facility will join three such plants already under construction in Singapore. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK, London, UK, www.gsk.com) is building a vaccines facility, and contract manufacturer Lonza (Basel, Switzerland, www.lonza.com) is constructing two biologics facilities, including its joint venture with Bio*One Capital (Centros, Singapore, www.bio1capital.com). Eli Lilly and Company (Indianapolis, IN, www.lilly.com) and Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (Hercules, CA, www.bio-rad.com), are also expanding their presence in the country.

The estimated capital expenditure of the planned Genentech site is approximately $140 million. It will have about 100 employees at steady state and provide 1,000 L of capacity for the production of E. coli­–derived products. This facility, which will be located in Tuas Biomedical Park, is intended for the manufacture of bulk Lucentis (ranibizumab injection), a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2007, with licensure anticipated in early 2010.

Lonza Group and Bio*One Capital recently broke ground on their second large-scale commercial mammalian cell culture manufacturing facility also at Tuas Biomedical Park. The first phase of construction of the Lonza Biologics site began last month. The facility will become fully operational by 2011. Depending upon customer demand, the capital investment could amount up to $350 million. Lonza Biologics Tuas Pte. Ltd. will have up to four mammalian bioreactor trains, each with a flexible capacity of 1,000 up to 20,000 L, inclusive of the respective purification units.

Another major pharmaceutical manufacturer pumping capital into Singapore is Eli Lilly and Company, which plans to make a $150-million expansion to its drug discovery research activities in the country. The Lilly Centre for Systems Biology (LSB) will undergo changes over the next five years. Lilly established the Lilly­–NUS Centre for Clinical Pharmacology, a joint venture with the National University of Singapore and the EDB, in 1996. This Phase 1 clinical pharmacology unit is now a fully owned Lilly facility, and provides a substantial portion of the clinical pharmacology capacity for the company. The growing facility will be renamed the Lilly-Singapore Centre for Drug Discovery and build on Lilly’s existing capabilities in biomarker discovery and development, primarily in cancer research.

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., a multinational manufacturer and distributor of life sciences research and clinical diagnostics products, is also increasing its presence in Singapore with the opening of its first manufacturing plant there. Occupying approximately 20,000 square feet of industrial space at Kaki Bukit View, the new facility will manufacture a variety of life sciences instruments used in medical and biological research laboratories worldwide.

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