UPDATED: Samsung ponies up $740M to create massive biologics production site in South Korea

Samsung BioLogics is partnered up on biologics projects with a who's who of Western drugmakers. To ensure it has the capacity for that and all of its other projects, it says it will build yet another plant that will make it the largest for-hire biologics maker in the world.

The South Korean company will build the 180,000-liter-capacity facility next to its two other biologics manufacturing plants in Songdo. It laid out plans for the 850 billion Korean won ($740 million) facility in a filing, The Wall Street Journal reported.

That is in addition to the 150,000-liter, $700 million plant it announced earlier this year. When the new facility is wrapped up in September 2018, Samsung's Songdo site will house three plants with a combined 360,000 liters of capacity.

Samsung Group got into biologics manufacturing in 2011 as a way to diversify away from its slowing mobile phone business. It pledged to invest $2 billion to become an expert in biologics manufacturing. A Samsung exec boasted that its manufacturing know-how would enable the company to make biosimilars at half the cost of what Western drugmakers would have to charge.

It quickly picked up work from Big Pharma and biotech players like Biogen, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Roche ($RHHBY). It has a contract to manufacture an undisclosed number of biologics for Roche.

On another front for Samsung, it and Biogen ($BIIB) created Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture to work on biosimilars, which Merck ($MRK) has since joined. Biogen and Samsung Bioepis's effort moved forward significantly this month with an EU recommendation for a copy of Pfizer's ($PFE) Enbrel. The joint venture also is working on biosimilars of Roche's cancer blockbuster Herceptin and Avastin. Samsung Bioepis and Merck recently won approval in South Korea of their copycat version of Enbrel. 

- read the WSJ story (sub. req.)