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Roche invests $879m in its biologics future

Expects to create around 500 new jobs in Switzerland, Germany and the US
Roche

Roche is making a substantial investment in its biologics manufacturing capabilities, driven by expectations of rising demand for existing products and those in development.

The Swiss pharma company has set out a five-year funding plan worth 800m Swiss francs (about $879m) that will see it expand its existing sites in Switzerland, Germany and the US.

The move will create around 500 new jobs, more than half of which will be located at its US sites in Oceanside and Vacaville, making the latter the largest biotech manufacturing facility in the world.

Around 250 jobs will be created at the two California facilities, which will receive more than $285m to increase their manufacturing capacity.

Roche's Penzberg site in Germany will increase headcount by around 200 positions and receive $384m in new funding. The extra money will go towards increasing capacity and refurbishing the site's existing equipment.

The company will also construct a new antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) production facility in Basel, Switzerland, through an investment of over $209m that is expected to create 50 jobs. The funding will be used to increase the site's capacity and flexibility to support Roche's first approved ADC, its Herceptin follow-up Kadcyla, and a further eight ADCs in clinical development.

Daniel O'Day, chief operating officer of Roche's Pharmaceuticals division, said: "Biologic medicines have become an essential part of modern medicine and play an important role in improving the lives of patients. As the world's largest supplier of biologics, Roche is committed to making the necessary investments to ensure ongoing supply of these medicines at the highest quality standards.

“Increasing our manufacturing capacity also highlights the confidence we have in the research and development of a range of new biologic medicines that will help serve unmet medical needs.”

The company has 39 investigational biologic medicines in its pipeline, the most advanced of which is chronic lymphocytic leukaemia candidate obintuzumab. It was filed for approval in the US and Europe earlier this year and positive survival data released over the summer look to have put it on track for approval by the end of this year.

If licensed obinutuzumab would join a portfolio of biologics that includes RoActemra (tocilizumab), Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab).

Article by
Dominic Tyer

14th October 2013

From: Research, Sales

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