AstraZeneca says Sweden getting its new $285M biologics plant

Having laid out plans last fall to expand a biologics plant in the U.S., AstraZeneca ($AZN) is now planning to build a new large-molecule filling facility in Sweden, adding up to 250 jobs in the process. The U.K. drugmaker says the new facility is part of a bigger plan for its biologics manufacturing, the details of which it will announce later.

AstraZeneca will build the $285 million filling and packaging facility at its site in Södertälje, where its largest tablets and capsules manufacturing facility is located. It expects to be producing product for clinical trials for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune biotech division by 2018 and to be ready for commercial production the next year.

AstraZeneca President Jan-Olof Jacke said there were a couple of good reasons to build the new plant in Södertälje. It can draw on its "well-established culture of operational excellence," and the company suggested there might be some financial incentives in the mix.

"In addition to our strong internal capabilities and the access to a highly skilled workforce within the life science sector, we are encouraged by signals from the Swedish Government regarding a competitive and supportive environment for business investment," Jacke said Monday in a statement.

In November, AstraZeneca said it would spend more than $200 million to add 40,000 square feet of manufacturing, laboratory and administrative space to its biologics facility in Frederick, MD, its largest biologics facility. That project will add about 300 new jobs to the site when the new operations are added in 2017.

With drugmakers seeing their future in specialty drugs, a big buildup in biologics capacity is materializing. Last week, Alexion ($ALXN) said it would spend more than $500 million on a new plant in Ireland and expects to add 200 jobs. Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) also has a biologics project underway in Ireland, and Amgen ($AMGN) completed a biologics facility in Singapore last year that also incorporates some continuous processing.

- here's the announcement