Celltrion to build facility in China and increase new drug output

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South Korean biotechnology company Celltrion has announced plans to build its first overseas factory in China. The company also intends to release one new biosimilar per year until 2030.

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In January 2020, the company announced plans to build an overseas biosimilars factory in Wuhan, China with an investment of over US$500 million.

Wuhan, which made the headlines recently as the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, is also somewhat of a hub for biologicals development. The city currently has around 300 facilities for biological R & D.

Celltrion’s current manufacturing site is based in Incheon, South Korea and produces around 190,000 litres of biologicals per year. The new site will have a capacity around 60% of that, at 120,000 litres. The company aims to expand its overall production capacity to one million litres by 2030.

The site, which will manufacture Celltrion’s biologicals as well as performing contract work for Chinese biotech firms, will be China’s biggest biologicals facility. Construction will begin in the first half of 2020 and is expected to complete by 2025. In the long term, the company aims to conduct R & D at the site, in addition to manufacturing.

The news renders Celltrion’s joint venture with Hong Kong’s Nan Fung Group [1], which was established in July 2019 to develop and commercialise biosimilars in China. The deal will now be cancelled and Celltrion will establish a local subsidiary in the area with its own sales network.

Celltrion also announced ambitious plans to launch a new drug every year until 2030. ‘We plan to launch either a monoclonal antibody biosimilar or new drug every year so as to enrich our product pipeline. These will include biosimilars, bio-innovatives, i.e. value-added medicines, and new drugs’, said a Celltrion Healthcare spokesperson.

The company currently has four biosimilars for sale: Remsima (infliximab), Remsima SC, Truxima (rituximab) and Herzuma (trastuzumab). It has a further three biosimilar candidates in clinical trials (bevacizumab, adalimumab and omalizumab), as well as seven unknown products in process development and 11 in the cell-line development stage. These unknown products are in the areas of immunology, oncology and ‘other’.

Ho Ung Kim, Head of Celltrion Healthcare’s medical and marketing division, said ‘Celltrion Healthcare has set up its own sales network and overseas offices in 14 countries throughout Europe to secure price competitiveness, and strives to lead the global tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors market with its innovative infliximab [biosimilar], Remsima SC, which is projected to be worth approximately US$50 billion’.

Celltrion also outlined its new platform technology, which will combine Celltrion’s core technologies. Examples of these technologies include antibody-drug conjugate technology, which combines oncology drugs with targeted antibodies that selectively attack cancer cells, and a subcutaneous injectable of infliximab (Remsima SC), for which the company recently received European Commission approval [2].

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Celltrion and Nan Fung Group form joint venture for copy biologicals in China [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 February 28]. Available from: http://www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/Celltrion-and-Nan-Fung-Group-form-joint-venture-for-copy-biologicals-in-China
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. EC approval for subcutaneous infliximab biosimilar Remsima SC [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 February 28]. Available from: http://www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/EC-approval-for-subcutaneous-infliximab-biosimilar-Remsima-SC

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Source: Korea Herald, Nikkei Asia Review

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