SciGen are to establish a manufacturing facility in China in a response to the growing demand for the Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine and insulin, which has reached epidemic proportions with 2 billion people having become infected with HBV at some time in their lives.
Meanwhile, the worldwide insulin market is immense, with sales of over $5 billion (€4.3 billion) in 2004 and yearly growth of almost 10 per cent. Furthermore, the market is highly concentrated, with three companies monopolising available market share.
Novo Nordisk, with 32 per cent (e.g. Novolin - $1.1 billion in 2004 - and Novolog), Eli Lilly, with 54 per cent (Humalog and Humulin, each grossing about $1 billion) and Sanofi-Aventis, with a 16 per cent share of the worldwide market (Lantus, about $0.8 billion).
The Singaporean-based biopharmaceutical company are to construct a facility that will be good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant and will produce a range of biopharmaceuticals including SciGen's recombinant human insulin SciLin and hepatitis B vaccine Sci-B-Vac.
The benefit to SciGen will be a third facility capable of producing its lead products and allowing the company to meet its current and future supply agreements in the region. SciGen will also own 51 per cent of the facility.
The facility is to be based in Hefei, in the Province of Anhui, China for the production of biopharmaceuticals. SciGen's role will be to supply primary materials for the distribution, marketing and sales of these products in China.
The venture is expected to cost $30 million development with construction expected to take between 18 to 24 months.
The joint venture involves the Hefei Life Science & Technology Investments and Development (HLSTP), which recently signed a $140 million sales and distribution contract with SciGen for Sci-B-Vac over seven years commencing in 2008.
The third party is Polish biopharmaceutical company Bioton, which is an investor in SciGen.
According to the World Health Organisation, out of the 2 billion affected, about 350 million people remain chronically infected and become carriers of HBV.
Over 4 million acute cases of HBV develop each year and about 25 per cent of these cases result in death each year due to chronic HBV or related conditions, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.