Eisai plans drug delivery center to support biologics expansion

Completion of construction is scheduled for the second quarter of Eisai’s fiscal 2022. (Eisai)

Eisai has started construction of a new building to support the development and manufacturing of injectable formulations. The expansion is intended to support the broadening of Eisai’s focus beyond small molecules and into modalities that are delivered via injection. 

Oral formulations are central to the history of Eisai, from the development of Aricept in the 1980s and 1990s through to its continued reliance on products such as Lenvima anti-cancer capsules and Banzel anti-convulsant tablets today. However, like many pharma companies, Eisai is expanding into biologics, establishing a pipeline that features 12 drugs given via injection. The Biogen-partnered Alzheimer’s disease prospect aducanumab is the highest-profile antibody in Eisai’s pipeline.

In drug discovery, Eisai is working on a still-more diverse range of modalities including antibody-drug conjugates and nucleic acid drugs. The diversification of the R&D pipeline has persuaded Eisai that it needs to make use of enhanced injection formulation technologies and drug delivery systems.

Eisai has responded to that realization by starting work on Eisai Medicine Innovation Technology Solutions (EMITS) at a site in Japan that has served as its base for formulation research since 1980. Completion of construction is scheduled for the second quarter of Eisai’s fiscal 2022, at which point the Japanese drugmaker will transfer formulation research from its current building to EMITS.

The construction of EMITS will also enable Eisai to enhance its manufacturing process development capabilities for injectables and establish GMP manufacturing capabilities for injection formulations. Eisai is also planning to install systems that enable it to develop liposomes, lipid nanoparticles and other emerging types of preparations. A space to work with external partners is planned, too.

Eisai framed the facilities as part of the midterm strategy it committed to in 2016. At that time, Eisai outlined plans to grow its neurology and oncology businesses by identifying untapped opportunities, a focus that in modern drug development inevitably led it beyond orally delivered small molecules.