Tipping the Scales in Manufacturing Investment - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Tipping the Scales in Manufacturing Investment
The pharmaceutical majors invest in biologics production capacity as they advance restructuring programs and build their pipelines


Pharmaceutical Technology


As it scales back, Pfizer is strengthening its position in biologics. The company is investing EUR 190 million ($294 million) for a process-development and small-scale production facility for biologics in Shanbally, Ireland. The facility will be located on a 30-acre site adjacent to Pfizer's existing facility in Ringaskiddy. The facility is scheduled to be completed and fully commissioned by the end of 2009. The move complements Pfizer's creation of the Pfizer Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center in late 2007. Based in San Francisco, the center oversees a consortium of units and collaborations with the academic, biomedical, biotechnology and venture-capital communities and collaborates with Pfizer Global Research and Development.


Table II: Top 50 pharmaceutical companies (Rankings 21–30)
Pfizer enhanced its drug pipeline through several recent acquisitions. In 2008, it acquired Serenex (Durham, NC), whose key product is the anticancer therapy "SNX-5422," an oral heat-shock protein 90 inhibitor in Phase I trials. In 2008, Pfizer obtained an 85% stake in the biopharmaceutical company Encysive Pharmaceutical (Houston, TX). Encysive's lead product is "Thelin" (sitaxsentan sodium) for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension. In January 2008, Pfizer bought CovX (San Diego. CA), a biotherapeutics company specializing in preclinical oncology and metabolic research. CovX also developed technology that links therapeutic peptides to an antibody scaffold to allow half-life extension to improve bioavailability and optimize the dosing regimes of peptide therapeutics.

To enhance its position in vaccines, Pfizer purchased Coley Pharmaceutical (Wellesley, MA) in early 2008. In 2008, it formed a pact with Avant Immunotherapies (Needham, MA) for an exclusive global license for "CDX-110," an experimental therapeutic vaccine, and exclusive rights to EGFRvIII vaccines. EGFRvIII is a functional variant of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein validated as an anticancer target. Also, in 2007, Pfizer acquired BioRexis Pharmaceutical (King of Prussia, PA). The company has developed drug candidates to treat diabetes and technology that uses serum protein transferrin as a scaffold for developing improved versions of peptides, proteins, and antibody-like molecules.

GlaxoSmithKline. In October 2007, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK, London) announced a 1.5- billion ($2.9-billion) operational excellence program to improve the effectiveness and productivity of its operations and achieve annual pretax savings of 700 million ($1.34 billion) by 2010. These savings are designed to mitigate lower earnings resulting from generic competition and declining sales of the antidiabetes product "Avandia" (rosiglitazone maleate). As part of that initiative, GSK will reduce the number of sites in its manufacturing network and simplify processes to reduce overcapacity and increase outsourcing.

In March 2008, GSK opened a SGD 115-million ($84-million) pilot plant in Singapore. GSK is also building a SGD 300-million ($219-million) vaccine-manufacturing plant in Singapore, which is scheduled to be operational in 2010. GSK is investing more than EUR 500 million ($774 million) in its St-Amand-Les-Eaux, France, vaccine-manufacturing plant to increase formulation, filling, freeze-drying, and packaging production. The facility is expected to be operational in 2011. In 2007, GSK announced an investment of EUR 250 million ($387 million) over five years in its production site in Currabinny, Ireland, to manufacture products such as lapatinib, the active ingredient in 'Tykerb." GKS is also investing EUR 30 million ($47 million) to expand an over-the-counter manufacturing facility in Dungarvan, Ireland, and recently completed a EUR 23 million ($36 million) granulation and compression facility.


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