Few additional details of the 10-year supply deal have been released and EMD, which operates as Merck Millipore outside the US and Canada, declined to comment when contacted by BioPharma-Reporter.com.
According to a media statement EMD will ship unspecified raw materials to a facility in Songdo, Incheon, which is a hub for the South Korean contract manufacturing organisation’s (CMOs) protein production operations.
Samsung Biologics, a joint venture formed by Samsung Electronics and Quintiles in 2011, describes the Incheon facility as a one-stop shop capable of producing bulk drug substances and drug products.
The facility houses a cell culture hall with six 5,000L stainless steel bioreactors, an upstream suite, downstream processing and fill/finish areas as well as a fully functioning R&D laboratory.
At present the only drug substance confirmed as being made at the site is the active ingredient for Bristol Myers-Squibb’s anticancer monoclonal antibody Yervoy (ipilimumab), which Samsung produces for markets outside the US under a deal signed in 2013.
Other work at Incheon
In 2011, Samsung teamed up with Biogen Idec to form Samsung Bioepis, a biosimilar development-focused joint venture that is also based at the Incheon facility.
Later that year the Incheon facility began making trial supplies of a candidate Rituxan (rituximab) biosimilar, however, production halted when the research was put on hold in 2012 for unspecified "internal reasons."
Since then Samsung has announced it has been contracted to make drug substances Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche – which co-markets Rituxan with Biogen Idec.
More recently, Merck & Co said it had contracted Samsung Bioepis develop and commercialize an insulin glargine biosimilar at the site, building on an initial agreement signed in 2013.
In addition to the existing Incheon facility, Samsung is working on a 150,000 litre cell culture-based manufacturing plant, which will also be supplied with raw materials by EMD Millipore.
Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.
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