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


AstraZeneca. In 2007, AstraZeneca (London) strengthened its position in biologics with its $15.6-billion purchase of MedImmune (Gaithersburg, MD). MedImmune has biologics-manufacturing capacity of more than 30,000 L planned by 2010, with the potential to increase capacity to as much as 60,000 L with further investment. Also in 2007, AstraZeneca bought a 66,000-ft2 biologics-manufacturing facility in Montreal from DSM Biologics (Heerlen, The Netherlands). The facility will manufacture antibody-drugs for clinical development. Full-scale production is projected to begin in 2009.

AstraZeneca is continuing a major restructuring program to achieve annual cost savings of $1.4 billion by 2010. The program is in addition to the productivity initiatives announced by AstraZeneca at the end of 2006, which included eliminating 3000 employees in manufacturing and, in mid-2007, additional staff reductions. As part of an ongoing review of its manufacturing facilities, the company announced the sale of facilities in Monts, France; Plankstadt, Germany; Indonesia; and South Africa in 2007. The company also announced plans to close a packaging site in Canada.

AstraZeneca invested in a new R&D center in Shanghai, as part of a larger $100-million R&D package. It also opened a $15-million process R&D laboratory in Bangalore, India, in 2007. The company is investing in a new $120-million process R&D laboratory at its Macclesfield site in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The facility is projected to begin operations in mid-2009.

Johnson & Johnson. In October 2007, Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, NJ) announced a restructuring program that consolidates certain operations in its pharmaceuticals segment and eliminates 4400 positions company-wide; 1400 positions were eliminated in 2007. The move is expected to result in annual pretax cost savings of $1.3–1.6 billion for 2008.

Merck. Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station, NJ) is continuing a company-wide restructuring that was first announced in 2005. The plan includes a new supply strategy by Merck's manufacturing division to be implemented through 2008. As of Mar. 31, 2008, Merck had sold or closed five manufacturing sites and two preclinincal sites and eliminated 8100 positions worldwide. Merck expects that the first phase of the global restructuring effort will yield pretax savings of $4.5–5 billion through 2010.

Merck is investing EUR 200 million ($309 million) in a vaccine facility in Carlow, Ireland, which is scheduled for completion in 2011. Earlier this year, Merck completed construction of a new $300-million vaccine-manufacturing plant in Durham, North Carolina. The facility is projected to be licensed and supplying vaccines in 2009. Merck is investing an additional $100 million in the Durham facility to add a sterile-processing facility, quality-testing laboratories, and a packaging line, scheduled to be completed by 2010. Merck is investing another $300 milllion in the facility for bulk-vaccine manufacturing capacity and utility, warehouse, and administrative infrastructure, scheduled for completion in 2011. The company also is building an EUR 100-million ($155-million) formulation R&D and solid-dosage manufacturing facility in Ballydine, Ireland.

In 2007, Merck acquired NovaCardia (San Diego, CA) for $366.4 million. NovaCardia's lead late-stage candidate is rolofylline for treating acute heart failure. Merck also partnered with Dynavax (Berkeley, CA) to develop an investigational hepatitis B vaccine and formed an R&D pact with GTx (Memphis, TN) for developing selective androgen receptor modulators.

Roche. In January 2008, Roche (Basel) announced investments of CHF 280 million ($268 million) to expand its biotechnology R&D activities in Penzberg, Switzerland, and CHF 150 million ($144 million) for expanding syringe-filling capabilities at its facilities in Mannheim, Germany, and Kaiseraugst, Switzerland. The company also opened a new biotechnology production center in Basel in May 2007. The facility will produce "Avastin" (bevacizumab). Delivery of the first batch of Avastin from Basel is scheduled for 2009.


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