Construction of the facility allows Sandoz to boost production of epoetin alfa, a drug originally marketed by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, which was among the first biosimilars to be marketed in the European Union.
To ensure supply of the drug Sandoz has invested $3.75m (€2.77m) into Lek’s site in Mengeš in central Slovenia. These funds have been used to build a 430m² production plant that will become a global supply point for Sandoz modified proteins.
Lek’s expertise in this field has been strengthened by the €45m investment Sandoz and parent company Novartis have made in biopharmaceutical development and production in Slovenia.
This investment has led to Mengeš becoming one of Sandoz’ leading biopharmaceutical development and production centres, with particular expertise in cell culture and modified protein technology.
“Our endeavours in biopharmaceuticals will have an important impact on health systems going forward”, said Zvonko Bogdanovski, member of the Lek board of management.
Bogdanovski added: “Biologics are an increasingly indispensable part of modern medicine, but are very expensive due to demanding research and development. Biosimilars, pioneered by Sandoz, make these vital medicines accessible to more people.”
In total Sandoz and Novartis claim to have invested €900m in Slovenia over the past seven years. This includes a €13m packaging centre which opened last year to supply European markets.