Novartis is investing more than half a billion US dollars in the construction of a new state-of-the-art biotechnology production site in Singapore for the manufacturing of drugs based on cell culture technology. The plant, located in Tuas, Singapore, will support the company’s growing biologics portfolio, which currently accounts for a quarter of Novartis’ clinical pharmaceutical research pipeline.
In a press statement, Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said that this investment further strengthens the company’s strategy to establish key strategic sites based on technological competencies. "We have chosen Singapore as strategic supply point as it offers a wide range of advantages due to its strong local biomedical presence and knowledge, skilled labor as well as proximity to growth markets in Asia."
Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013 with the new production facility expected to be fully operational by the end of 2016. The plant will be designed to accommodate small- and large-scale manufacturing of cell-based products for clinical and commercial purposes, which includes monoclonal antibodies for autoimmune, respiratory and oncology indications.
At the moment, Novartis has Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Xolair (omalizumab) in its biologics portfolio and both products have already attained blockbuster status, reaching sales in billions. Developed in collaboration with Genentech/Roche, Lucentis is the only anti-VEGF therapy marketed for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema (DME), and visual impairment due to macular edema secondary to retinal vein occlusion (RVO). Xolair is a first-in-class anti-IgE antibody approved in more than 90 countries for the treatment of persistent allergic asthma.
Novartis has several operations in Singapore, including the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), the Novartis Asia-Pacific head offices and two production facilities for Alcon as well as one pharmaceutical manufacturing site. It is anticipated that Singapore will be a technological competence center for both biotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing for Novartis in the near future.