BeiGene opens phase one of $320M plant with 180 workers

Guangzhou New Year's celebration
Chinese drugmaker BeiGene has opened a manufacturing plant that it refers to as its Guangzhou base in the city in the northwest of Hong Kong. (Ababsolutum/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

In 2017 China’s BeiGene undertook two big deals. It licensed rights to clinical stage PD-1 inhibitor to Celgene and it kicked off construction of a $320 million manufacturing facility. While the Celgene deal went off the tracks, phase one of the plant is now complete.

BeiGene this week said that it has opened the 100,000 square meter initial phase of its RMB 2.3 billion Guangzhou Bio-manufacturing Base, which it will use for commercial manufacturing of the oncology drugs it is developing. A spokesperson said in an email that about 180 people currently work on-site but that the company expects to have more than 200 employed there by early 2020. 

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BeiGene’s other deal of 2017 has not progressed as directly to fruition. Celgene invested $150 million in BeiGene for the ex-Asia rights to Chinese company's PD-1 inhibitor tislelizumab. Beigene also got Celgene’s Chinese drug assets, which included cancer drugs Revlimid, Abraxane and Vidaza. 

Celegene, however, returned its rights to ttislelizumab after agreeing to merge with Bristol-Myers Squibb which has the highly successful PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo.

According to a BeiGene spokesperson, the company is pretty excited about the turn of events. Not only did it get back worldwide rights after the drug advanced to the registration stage, the company received $650 million over the course of the collaboration, plus $150M when it terminated, he said. 

RELATED: As Bristol-Myers merger marches ahead, what's BeiGene's plan for Celgene-partnered PD-1?

BeiGene has indicated its plans for the drug in China, where it’s under priority review for classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), are pretty straightforward. The loss of access to Celgene's commercial operations for the U.S., E.U. and Japan is the complicating matter. BeiGene Chief Adviser Eric Hedrick, told FiercePharma in an interview the impact on clinical development would be “marginal” and the financial hit would be “modest.”