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Roche: 'Largest biomanufacturing capacity across the industry' to get bigger

Dan Stanton

By Dan Stanton+

07-Feb-2017
Last updated on 07-Feb-2017 at 10:58 GMT2017-02-07T10:58:45Z

The Roche tower dominating the Basel, Switzerland skyline. Image: iStock/olli0815
The Roche tower dominating the Basel, Switzerland skyline. Image: iStock/olli0815

Roche says it will continue to expand its biologics manufacturing capacity while reducing its small molecule network.

In 2013 , Roche announced it was investing CHF 800m ($804m) across its in-house biologics manufacturing network. Two years later and the Swiss pharma giant said it was upping capacity a further 40% on the back of an increased demand for biologics.

And last week, Daniel O'Day – CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals – told investors during a Q4 financial call that the firm intended to continue to invest in its manufacturing capacity, as it is “essential to the growth of [its] medicines in the future, most of which are biologics.”

For the full year, pharmaceutical sales stood at CHF 39.1bn – up 4.7% year-on-year – driven by the firm’s biological products: eight out of the top ten selling Roche products were biopharmaceuticals, and the top five – Mabthera, Avastin, Herceptin, Perjeta and Actemra – were monoclonal antibodies.

US and European expansions in 2017

Roche spokesman Patrick Barth would not disclose the scale of investment, but confirmed the firm will be “focusing on capacity expansion projects in the US and Europe” in the coming year.

“We have been investing into the expansion of our biologics manufacturing network for several years and will continue to do so in 2017,” he told Biopharma-Reporter.

“We do not disclose the capacity at our sites,” said Barth. “However, we can confirm that Roche has the largest biologics manufacturing capacity across the industry.”

Production footprint

Roche’s network consists of production sites in Basel/Kaiseraugst in Switzerland, and Penzberg and Mannheim in Germany. Biotech subsidiary Genentech operates biomanufacturing sites in San Francisco, Oceanside, Vacaville – all California – and Hillsboro in Oregon, along with a former Lonza site in Singapore.

Japanese subsidiary Chugai Pharmaceuticals also offers 49,000L of capacity in Tokyo .  

Meanwhile, Roche has been actively reducing its small molecule production footprint. “We are in the process to exit four manufacturing sites to address underutilisation across the sites that support our mature portfolio based on small molecules,” said Barth.

A site in Florence, South Carolina was recently acquired by CDMO Patheon , sites in Spain and Italy have been earmarked for closure, and a site in Clarecastle, Ireland has already begun ceasing production.

But, Barth added, the firm will still support small molecule manufacturing when it suits Roche's future technology needs and changing commercial portfolio, citing an investment in a late stage development and launch facility for small molecules in Kaiseraugst, Switzerland.

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