BMS extends deal with Samsung as its pipeline percolates with more biologics

Samsung plant in Incheon, South Korea

Last year, Bristol-Myers Squibb started in on a $250 million expansion of its biologics making facility in Massachusetts. But with a host of biologic products in its pipeline, Bristol-Myers ($BMY) sees the need for more capacity for making large-molecule drugs and has decided to build on a relationship it already has with South Korea's Samsung BioLogics.

The companies said Tuesday that Samsung will manufacture "commercial drug substances and drug product" for several BMS biologics at its manufacturing site in Incheon, South Korea. The two hooked up last year when BMS contracted with Samsung to manufacture its hot-selling melanoma cancer drug Yervoy outside the U.S.

BMS has its own biologics plants in Syracuse, NY, and Devens, MA, and is adding 200,000 square feet of space to the campus in Devens, increasing its size by 50%. The $250 million project is expected to be complete next year. It manufactures its rheumatoid arthritis treatment Orencia there. But the drugmaker has lots of other products coming down the line. Among other things, BMS is studying a combo of Yervoy with nivolumab, a cancer immunotherapy which BMS is testing on lung cancer, melanoma and kidney cancer.

BMS spokesman Ken Dominski explained in an email that the agreement with Samsung is in line with the company's global biologics manufacturing strategy to forge long-term relationships with certain partners. He said that bulk products are manufactured either at Bristol-Myers' U.S. plants, or by contractors like Samsung, and then finished and packaged in Manatí, Puerto Rico, and Anagni, Italy.

"This agreement increases our biologic manufacturing capacity to help ensure sufficient, long-term supply of our commercial products and is intended to complement capacity already in place," Dominski said. Samsung certainly has a lot of capacity. Last year, the company completed its 740,000-square-foot plant in Songdo Incheon capable of turning out 1,300 pounds of biopharmaceutical products a year.

- here's the announcement
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