Boehringer Ingelheim picks up contract work for Sanofi mAbs

Biologics make up a growing piece of the pipelines at many drugmakers and are leading to heavy investment in new manufacturing. At Sanofi ($SNY), 72% of its drugs under development are biologics and half of those are monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). But instead of building a new plant right now, the French drugmaker will lean on Boehringer Ingelheim for additional mAb capacity.

Sanofi said last week that it had struck a deal to transfer and begin manufacturing the targeted treatments at Boehringer Ingelheim's operation in Biberach an der Riss, Germany. A big part of its need comes from the products it is partnering on with Tarrytown, NY, drugmaker Regeneron.

Sanofi SVP Wolfram Carius

"Boehringer Ingelheim is a highly capable and experienced partner to complement our continued alliance with Regeneron and the investments we are making in building our own internal capabilities as we prepare for a wave of potential new product launches in the coming years," Wolfram Carius, Sanofi senior vice president of biologics, said in a statement.

The partners are working on a number of mAb projects that include a next-generation cholesterol drug alirocumab, rheumatoid arthritis treatment sarilumab, and dupilumab, which Regeneron is testing in eczema, asthma and nasal polyps.

Boehringer has been building out its various biologics facilities in recent years in expectation of capturing more of the contract manufacturing market with its expertise. But many companies are building or expanding their own biologics manufacturing facilities, including Regeneron ($REGN), which is retrofitting a plant in Ireland, as well as expanding a facility in New York. Lots of other projects for biologics manufacturing have come online or been announced in recent months. In quick succession last fall, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Amgen ($AMGN) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) all announced projects to expand biologics capacity. In 2013, Swiss drugmaker Roche ($RHHBY) started in on a multipronged $882 million effort to build a new biologics facility in Switzerland and expand plants in the U.S. and Germany.

- here's the Sanofi announcement

Special Reports: 10 top drugs in biopharma's late-stage pipeline - Alirocumab | The 10 best-selling drugs of 2013

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