Fujifilm invests $116M in U.S. as it races competitors for biologics contract work

Japan's Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is building out its facility in Texas, as well as in the U.K., and looking to buy plants as it taps the burgeoning biologics contract business. (Fujifilm Diosynth)

Japan’s Fujifilm is relatively new to the drug manufacturing realm and has yet to crack $1 billion in sales from its small-molecule operations. But it believes it can grow exponentially by concentrating on biologic drug production and is investing close to $130 million in plants in the U.S. and U.K. to make that happen.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has now completed a $93 million Texas manufacturing facility it acquired several years ago, the company announced Tuesday.

But with contracts for work rolling in, Fujifilm said it will invest another $23 million to expand that operation, as well as spend about $9 million on its facilities in Billingham, U.K. All of this is with the goal of hitting about $1 billion in biologics contract work by 2023 as it races competitors to capture the burgeoning biologics CDMO business.  

“Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is committed to its vision of being leaders in the bio CDMO space,” Steve Bagshaw, CEO of that operation, said in a statement.

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In addition to the capacity expansion at its current locations, the firm is considering buying manufacturing facilities to meet growing demand, Takatoshi Ishikawa, general manager of the company’s BioCDMO division told Bloomberg in an interview in Tokyo. He said the company intends to focus on novel drug development and production.

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“Our facilities are booked up for a long time because pharma companies are increasingly developing and selling biopharmaceuticals,’’ Ishikawa told the news service. “Some pharma companies are facing trouble securing production lines. That’s why we need to invest in the business more.’’

In the Texas facility—funded in part by the U.S. BARDA program—Fuji is installing its Saturn Monoclonal Antibody Platform, and will have an initial cell culture capacity of 6,000 liters that can be expanded to 24,000 liters in upstream capacity. Those functions should be operational in 2018.

In the U.K., the company is building over 10,000 square feet of labs to expand process development capabilities at what it is calling its 'Mammalian Cell Culture Center of Excellence.' That facility is scheduled to be operational this summer.

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Others also envision billions of dollars in sales from biologics. Swiss contract Lonza and German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim both already have large biologics contract businesses, while Korean competitor Samsung BioLogics is also making huge investments in manufacturing capacity with the goal of being the largest of them all.

RELATED: Samsung BioLogics nears finish line with massive biologics manufacturing project

In an update with FiercePharmaManufacturing last week, Samsung said it was nearing completion on a $750 million facility in South Korea, which includes a dozen 15,000-liter bioreactors. At 118,618 square meters, the plant will be about twice the area of a standard World Cup stadium. It is the third plant it has built in Songdo, Incheon. Samsung said it will have invested $2.6 billion in the massive buildup.